PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS OF THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN
RIGHTS ON ITS VISIT TO HONDURAS, MAY 15 TO 18, 2010
6. On June 28, 2009, Honduran Army troopers, acting on orders from the Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, entered the presidential residence, took President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales into custody and sent him to Costa Rica aboard a military aircraft. With that, a democratically elected President was ousted and the democratic, constitutional order was interrupted. That same day, the IACHR strongly condemned the coup d’état and the interruption of the constitutional order, issuing an urgent call to restore the democratic order and to respect human rights, the rule of law and the Inter-American Democratic Charter. It also called for absolute respect for the right to freedom of expression.
7. In keeping with its obligations to promote and protect human rights and given the hundreds of complaints it had received of serious violations of the right to life and the right to humane treatment, that same day, June 28, 2009, the Commission granted precautionary measures to safeguard the lives of hundreds of persons as a consequence of the coup d’état. It requested information on the risk that certain persons faced; it also requested information pursuant to Article 41 of the American Convention on Human Rights and Article XIV of the Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons. The Commission issued several press releases and on June 30, it filed a request seeking an urgent visit to Honduras.
8. On July 4, 2009, the OAS General Assembly held a special session where it approved resolution AG/RES.2 (XXXVII-E/09) in which it decided to suspend the Honduran State from the exercise of its right to participate in the OAS. In that same resolution the General Assembly resolved “to reaffirm that the Republic of Honduras must continue to fulfill its obligations as a member of the Organization, in particular with regard to human rights; and to urge the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to continue to take all necessary measures to protect and defend human rights and fundamental freedoms in Honduras.”
9. The IACHR conducted its in loco visit from August 17 to 21, 2009. Along with the loss of institutional legitimacy brought about by the coup d’état, during its visit the Commission confirmed that serious human rights violations had been committed, including the killing of at least seven people, an arbitrary declaration of a state of emergency, disproportionate use of force against public demonstrations, criminalization of public protest, arbitrary detention of thousands of persons, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, poor detention conditions, militarization of Honduran territory, an increase in incidents of racial discrimination, violations of women’s rights, and severe and arbitrary restrictions on the right to freedom of expression. The Commission also established that judicial remedies were ineffective in protecting human rights in Honduras. On August 21, 2009, the IACHR publicly announced its preliminary observations on the visit in press release 60/09.
10. Subsequent to the August 2009 visit and in view of the information it had received concerning serious events occurring in Honduras, on September 23 and 29, 2009, the IACHR asked the State if it could conduct another visit. However, it did not receive a reply.
11. The IACHR prepared the report titled Honduras: Human Rights and the Coup d’état, and published it on January 20, 2010.
12. On January 27, 2010, Mr. Porfirio Lobo Sosa was sworn in as President of Honduras, following elections held on November 29, 2009, in which mayors, members of municipal councils and deputies were also elected.
13. On February 3, 2010, the IACHR issued press release 14/10 in which it expressed its concern with respect to the ambiguity of the Amnesty Decree approved by the National Congress of Honduras on January 26, 2010. Although the text made provision for certain exceptions in terms of human rights violations, the language was ambiguous and the decree did not spell out precise criteria or concrete mechanisms for its application.
14. On March 8, 2010, the IACHR condemned and lamented the murders of three persons who were active in the resistance to the coup d’état. The killings occurred between February and March of 2010. It also deplored the kidnappings, arbitrary detentions, sexual violations and illegal searches to which active members of the resistance to the coup d’état and members of their families had been subjected. The IACHR also expressed deep concern over the information received to the effect that children of activists were being threatened and harassed and in two cases had been killed.
15. On March 5, 15 and 16 the IACHR’s Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression condemned the murder of three journalists.
16. Based on the information that the Commission received regarding the human rights situation in Honduras and with the purpose to follow up on the in loco visit made in August 2009 and the report titled Honduras: Human Rights and the Coup d’état, on March 19, 2010 the IACHR asked the Honduran State to agree to another visit by the Commission.
17. On March 27, 2010, the IACHR’s Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression condemned the murder of journalists from R.Z. Television Channel 4 and Radio Excélsior, Bayardo Mairena and Manuel Juárez, on March 26 in the Department of Olancho, Honduras. The Office of the Special Rapporteur expressed its deep concern over the vulnerability of the press in Honduras. On April 22, 2010, another press release was issued when it was learned that yet another journalist had been murdered on April 20, 2010.
18. In this context, the IACHR conducted a new visit to Honduras from May 15 to 18, 2010.
 Given the number of complaints received, the IACHR began with precautionary measure 196-09, dated June 28, 2009, on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Honduras, Patricia Rodas. It also requested information on other persons. Precautionary measure 196-09 has been amplified several times over. See in this regard: http://www.cidh.oas.org/medidas/2009.eng.htm.
 American Convention on Human Rights, Article 41: “The main function of the Commission shall be to promote respect for and defense of human rights. In the exercise of its mandate, it shall have the following functions and powers: (…) d) to request the governments of the member states to supply it with information on the measures adopted by them in matters of human rights.”
Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of persons, Article XIV: “[W]hen the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights receives a petition or communication regarding an alleged forced disappearance, its Executive Secretariat shall urgently and confidentially address the respective government, and shall request that government to provide as soon as possible any other information as to the whereabouts of the allegedly disappeared person together with any other information it considers pertinent, and such request shall be without prejudice as to the admissibility of the petition.”
 OAS, General Assembly, Special Session, Resolution AG/RES 2 (XXXVII-E/09) of July 4, 2009, operative paragraphs 1 and 2. Available at: http://www.oas.org/consejo/GENERAL%20ASSEMBLY/Resolucionesextraordinarias.asp.
 On April 22, 2010, the IACHR received a note signed by President Porfirio Lobo Sosa, dated March 26, 2010, in which he consented to the visit. Then, in a note dated May 7, 2010, the President of the Supreme Court informed the IACHR of the name of the person who would serve as government liaison during the visit.