IACHR CONDEMNS SUSPENSION OF GUARANTEES IN HONDURAS
Washington, D.C., September 29, 2009 — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the suspension of rights recognized in the American Convention on Human Rights ordered through Executive Decree PCM-M-016-2009, published by the de facto authorities in Honduras on September 26, 2009. This suspension is a violation of international law, as it was adopted to sustain the illegitimate government that arose from the rupture of the democratic institutional order, which took place on June 28, 2009.
The suspension of guarantees is provided for in Article 27 of the Convention as an exceptional mechanism for suspending the enjoyment and exercise of rights “in time of war, public danger, or other emergency that threatens the independence or security of a State Party.” However, for a suspension of guarantees to be legitimate, it must meet a series of requirements established in the Convention. The first of these requirements is that the suspension of guarantees be adopted by a government that exercises public power legitimately, within the context of a democratic society. Also, as the Inter-American Court has stated, “The suspension of guarantees lacks all legitimacy whenever it is resorted to for the purpose of undermining the democratic system. That system establishes limits that may not be transgressed, thus ensuring that certain fundamental human rights remain permanently protected.”
The decree includes a 45-day suspension of constitutional guarantees related to personal liberty, freedom of association and assembly, freedom of movement, and freedom of expression, and establishes that the armed forces will participate in operations “to maintain the order and security of the Republic” and to take audiovisual communications media off the air. The decree also prohibits any public meeting not authorized by police or military authorities; restricts freedom of transit, indicating that the de facto authorities will announce the duration of curfews and the geographical area in which they will be applied; and orders the detention of anyone who moves about in hours outside the established timetable.
The IACHR expresses its deep concern over this decree, whose provisions arbitrarily restrict fundamental human rights and contain vague regulations that grant absolute discretion to the authorities, especially the Army and the Police forces.
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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