IACHR REQUESTS TO VISIT HONDURAS, GRANTS PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES
AND ASKS FOR INFORMATION
Washington, D.C., June 30, 2009 – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) requested to visit Honduras today in order to urgently assess the human rights situation in the country following the June 28, 2009 the coup d’état. The Inter-American Commission has received troubling information through requests for precautionary measures, oral and written communications and media reports. According to the information received, several persons were arbitrarily detained; some were allegedly freed and the whereabouts of others are still unknown. Moreover, the Commission received information that several persons have been attacked and others have been threatened.
According to article 51 of its Rules of Procedure, the Commission requested to conduct a visit in Honduras. The IACHR addressed the letter to the President of the Congress and the President of the Supreme Court of Justice, authorities that remain in their posts after the coup d’état, given the impossibility at this time to address President Manuel Zelaya and Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas.
In addition, the IACHR granted precautionary measures on June 28 and amplified them on June 29, 2009. In both instances, information was requested on the situation and safety of several persons.
The June 28 precautionary measure was granted in favor of Foreign Minister Patricia Rodas. The Commission made its decision based on requests for precautionary measures received from several organizations, as well as publicly-known recent events. According to the information received, Minister Rodas had been arbitrarily deprived of her liberty and her whereabouts remained unknown. The IACHR requested the State of Honduras to clarify her situation and her whereabouts; to adopt the necessary measures to guarantee her life and personal integrity; and to ensure her immediate freedom. The Commission informed the State that it should receive information about the implementation of the requested measures in an urgent manner, no later than June 30, 2009. The day after the measures were granted, on June 29, Minister Rodas was in Mexico.
In the same letter sent on June 28, the Commission requested that the State of Honduras provide information regarding the situation of other high State officials, relatives of President Manuel Zelaya and a group of social leaders, with the objective of deciding on whether to grant several requests for precautionary measures. The IACHR established the same deadline of June 30, 2009, to receive information about the situation of these persons and on any other measures that might be adopted to safeguard their security. The following is the list of persons about whom the IACHR requested information:
Representative in the National Congress for the Partido Unificación
Enrique Flores Lanza, Secretary of the Presidency;
Mayra Mejía, Secretary of Labor;
Doris García, Minister of the National Institute of Women;
Miriam Mejh, Youth Institute;
Milton Jiménez Puerto, President of the Commission of Banks and Insurance;
Marco Tulio Burgos Córdova, National Commissioner of the Permanent Committee of Contingencies;
Luter Castillo Harris, Manager of External Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Relations;
Arcadia López, Staff Minister in the Presidential House;
Carlos Melano, assistant to President Zelaya;
Enrique Reina, assistant to President Zelaya; and
All other Ministers, Vice Ministers and members of the Cabinet of President Zelaya Rosales.
Relatives of President Manuel Zelaya
Rafael Alegría, national leader of Vía Campesina;
Ángel Alvarado, of the Comité Nacional de Resistencia;
Juan Barahona, of the Bloque Popular;
Bertha Cáceres, of the Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (COPIHN);
Eulogio Chávez, of the Comité Nacional de Resistencia;
Bertha Oliva de Nativí, of the Comité de Familiares Detenidos – Desaparecidos de Honduras (COFADEH);
Andrés Pavón Uribe, of the Comité de Derechos Humanos de Honduras (CODEH);
Marvin Ponce, of the Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras;
Carlos Eduardo Reina, of the Comité Nacional de Resistencia;
Carlos Humberto Reyes, of the Bloque Popular;
Sara Elisa Rosales, of the organization Las Lolas y Movimiento Feminista;
Israel Salinas, of the Sindicato Mayoritario; and
Salvador Zúñiga, of the Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras.
On June 29, 2009, the IACHR amplified the precautionary measures in favor of Edran Amado López, Bertha Cáceres and César Ham. According to information received by the IACHR, military forces have been surrounding the house of Bertha Cáceres, member of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras). Military forces have allegedly also surrounded the house of César Ham, Representative in the National Congress by the Partido Unificación Democrática. The military also allegedly fired on Representative Ham’s house with machine-guns. Additionally, Edran Amado López, a journalist on the TV Channel 36 program Cholusatsur, was allegedly detained and his whereabouts remain unknown. The IACHR requested that the necessary measures be adopted to guarantee the life and personal integrity of the beneficiaries. In the case of Edran Amado López, the Commission also asked for information about his whereabouts and, should he be arbitrary detained, that he be released immediately. The IACHR asked that information regarding the implementation of these amplified measures be transmitted urgently, no later than July 1, 2009. The IACHR set the same July 1 deadline to receive information from Honduras regarding the situation of Roger Ulises Peña, Alan McDonald, Adriana Sivori, Larry Sánchez, María José Díaz and Freddy Quintero. According to the information received, Roger Ulises Peña, a union member, was allegedly attacked by a military command on June 29, 2009, and that his current health situation is very critical. Alan McDonald, a cartoonist, was allegedly arbitrarily detained along with his 17-month-old daughter when a group of soldiers allegedly raided his house and destroyed his cartoons. Military forces allegedly arbitrarily detained TeleSUR correspondents Adriana Sivori, Larry Sánchez, María José Díaz, and Freddy Quintero, and confiscated their notes and equipment.
The IACHR also set a July 1 deadline for receiving information from Honduras as to whether a state of emergency has been declared, and, in this case, what measures have been adopted to ensure respect for irrevocable fundamental rights and judicial guarantees. The Inter-American Convention on Human Rights establishes in article 27 that in no case can a State suspend, among others, the right to life, personal integrity, freedom of conscience and religion, protection of the family, political rights and indispensible judicial guarantees for the protection of these rights. Furthermore, the Commission requests information as to whether any deaths have taken place in connection with the coup d’état, and, in this case, specific information on those deaths; and the total number of the detentions that took place beginning on June 28, 2009, in connection with the coup d’état or in later operations to control the public order; complete identification of the detained persons and reasons for their detention; whether any persons are being detained in military or police establishments; whether there any of the detained persons are incommunicado and the time lapsed under this condition; and whether there are judicial resources available and functioning to review the causes and conditions of these detentions.
Regarding the status of freedom of expression, the IACHR requests information from Honduras about the alleged shutting down of Channel 36, Channel 8 and State media; the alleged seizure of HONDUTEL by military forces; the alleged deliberate shut down of electricity and telephone services; the alleged order, under threat of force, that two TeleSUR teams dismantle their equipment and interrupt their transmissions; the alleged prohibition on cable TV broadcast channels (TeleSUR, CNN, CubaVisión Internacional); the alleged prohibition on reproducing or broadcasting declarations of officials of the Government of President Zelaya by newspaper el Tiempo and Channel 11; the seizure of Radio Globo by military forces and the alleged attacks and threats against its staff, including Alejandro Villatoro, Lidieth Díaz, Rony Martínez, Franklin Mejía, David Ellner Romero, and Orlando Villatoro; the alleged seizure of Radio Progreso by military forces; the measures adopted to guarantee the life and personal integrity of an El Heraldo newspaper journalist, who was allegedly attacked by private persons during a protest in front of the Presidential House; and the alleged detention of 22 buses containing indigenous peoples from Olancho and Jesus de Otoro. The IACHR Special Rapporteurship for the Freedom of Expression issued a press release on June 29, condemning the limitations on the freedom of expression following the coup d’état and urging the absolute respect of this right.
On June 28, 2009, the Inter-American Commission issued a press release strongly condemning the coup d’état and the interruption of the constitutional order that occurred in Honduras. As it did on the day of the coup d’état, the IACHR reiterates the urgent call to restore the democratic order in Honduras and to respect human rights, the rule of law and the Inter-American Democratic Charter. On June 28, the Organization of American States, through a resolution of its Permanent Council, condemned the coup d’état and the arbitrary detention and expulsion of President Zelaya; demanded his immediate, safe and unconditional return to his constitutional functions; announced that no government arising from this unconstitutional interruption will be recognized; and called for a special session of the OAS General Assembly, which will be held today.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who act in a personal capacity, without representing a particular country, and who are elected by the OAS General Assembly.
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