Honduras: reject amnesty for abuses during coup

The proposal by Porfirio Lobo, winner of Honduras’ disputed presidential election on November 29, 2009, for an “amnesty for all” of those involved in the June coup d’état violates the country’s international obligations and undermines the rule of law, Human Rights Watch said Dec. 11. The election was organized by the de facto government, and has been recognized only by the United States and four Latin American countries. The ousted president, Manuel Zelaya, urged his supporters to boycott the vote.

“A blanket amnesty would flout Honduras’ obligation to ensure that all victims of rights violations can obtain a remedy, and set a precedent for granting impunity to abusers,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch.

Honduras is party to several international legal treaties that impose an obligation to protect fundamental rights and to remedy their abuses, including by investigating and prosecuting the violators as appropriate. These treaties also guarantee victims an effective legal remedy, including justice, truth, and adequate reparations.

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly called on the de facto government to repeal repressive decrees, stop blocking human rights inquiries, and investigate abuses – including allegations of killings, excessive use of force, and illegal and arbitrary detentions. “The abuses committed during the coup and its aftermath need to be investigated, not swept under the carpet,” Vivanco said. “Without a full and impartial inquiry, the legitimacy of any government will be called into question.” (HRW, Dec. 11)

The four Latin American countries that have recognized the election are Colombia, Peru, Panama and Costa Rica. Spain’s Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos, who has been at the forefront of efforts to reinstate Zelaya, said that while Spain didn’t recognize the election, it wouldn’t disregard the vote, implying it might recognize Lobo in the coming months. (WSJ, Dec. 2)

See our last post on Honduras.

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