The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) today published the report entitled Honduras: Human Rights and the Coup d'État. The IACHR conducted an on-site visit to Honduras on August 17-21, 2009, and prepared this report, which covers the human rights situation from the time of the coup that overthrew the democratically elected President on June 28, 2009.
The report states that along with the loss of institutional legitimacy caused by the coup d'état, serious human rights violations have occurred. These include deaths; the arbitrary declaration of a state of exception; the repression of public demonstrations through the disproportionate use of force; the criminalization of social protest; the arbitrary detention of thousands of individuals; cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment and poor detention conditions; the militarization of the territory; an increase in situations of racial discrimination; violations of women's rights, arbitrary restrictions on the right to freedom of expression; and serious infringements of political rights.
The IACHR also verified the ineffectiveness of judicial remedies to safeguard human rights. The violations of the rights to life, humane treatment, association, personal liberty, a fair trial, freedom of expression, political rights, and the rights of women and minority groups were exacerbated by the lack of an institutional order that would make it possible to channel complaints, investigate the facts, punish those responsible, and provide remedies to the victims.
The sectors of Honduran society that condemn the coup d'état told the IACHR that they feared suffering reprisals on the part of security agents and distrusted the actions of those institutions that have not forcefully condemned the interruption of the democratic institutional order and have failed to act in the face of publicly known allegations. The de facto authorities and the Supreme Court of Justice of Honduras systematically deny the existence of these violations, a circumstance that results in a state of inactivity and tolerance that makes it easier for such acts to be repeated with impunity.
The bodies of the inter-American human rights system have maintained on numerous occasions that the democratic system is the principal guarantee for the effectiveness of human rights. Indeed, it can be inferred from the report that the human rights violations that are alleged are a direct consequence of the interruption of the constitutional order. The Commission condemns the fact that, despite the efforts of the international community, President Zelaya has not been allowed to return to the Presidency of Honduras. The Commission believes that the return to the democratic institutional order in Honduras is necessary for the conditions to be in place for the effective protection and fulfillment of the human rights of all the people of that country.
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.