September 2, 2009

Human Rights Report: Honduras

"The following human rights problems were reported: unlawful killings by members of the police and government agents; arbitrary and summary killings committed by vigilantes and former members of the security forces; violence against detainees by security forces; harsh prison conditions; corruption and impunity within the security forces; failure to provide due process of law; lengthy pretrial detention; politicization of the judiciary, judicial corruption, and institutional weakness; erosion of press freedom; corruption in the legislative and executive branches...."

The above statement is from the US State Department 2008 Human Rights Report: Honduras, dated February 25, 2009, under President Manuel Zelaya.

Highlights from the 2008 report:

Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

"Although the constitution and law prohibit such practices, there were instances in which government officials employed them, including police beatings and other abuse of detainees."

Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

"The Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Honduras (CODEH) alleged that an undetermined number of security officials had arrested arbitrarily, and sometimes tortured, more than two dozen persons, under the government's Operation National program."

"According to the Public Ministry, during the year 312 reports were filed against the police with the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights, of which 163 cases were investigated and 43 were discovered to have merit. The majority of these reports involved excessive use of force, unlawful detention, and extortion."

"The Ministry of Security reported that during the year authorities prosecuted 268 police officers for offenses ranging from abuse of authority to drug trafficking, rape, and homicide."

Freedom of Speech and Press

"The constitution and the law generally provide for freedom of speech and of the press, and there was substantial press freedom in the country. However, there were reports of government intimidation of journalists, government takeovers of television transmission frequencies, and journalistic self-censorship. The law prohibits demonstrators from making statements that could incite persons to riot."

"NGOs reported that the government also gave substantial sums of money to selected members of the media who covered their stories in the manner they requested. The government exerted considerable influence on the print media through granting or withholding publicly funded official advertisements."

"The news media continued to suffer from venality, politicization, and outside influences. According to NGOs, government ministers and other high-ranking officials obtained press silence through hiring journalists as public affairs assistants at high salaries and paid journalists to investigate or suppress news stories."

"Some media members claimed that, when they attempted to report in depth on national politicians or official corruption, they were occasionally denied access to government information. Access to the presidential palace and to the president, especially on international visits, was limited to the "friendly" press and was arbitrarily awarded and withdrawn by presidential palace staff."

"Thelma Mejia, a member of the National Anti-Corruption Council and former director of the NGO C-Libre, reported that at least three dozen journalists, many of them in rural areas, were subjected to threats and intimidation during the year."


Again, these reports pertain to 2008, under the presidency of Mel Zelaya. The entire, very lengthy report can be read at the US State Department website. Notes on Preparation of the Country Reports indicate that the reports are prepared based on a wide variety of sources, including in-country and worldwide human rights organizations.

The State Department's 2007 report and 2006 report can also be found at that website.


The point? Yes, there are human rights violations in Honduras and there always have been. But to blame any current violations
on a "coup regime", without investigation or providing Honduras the right to investigate and respond, is a political move to increase world pressure on the current constitutional government.

Organizations and media outlets that report bloodbaths, massacres, disappearances, gang rapes, detention camps, and continual media suppression without one shred of evidence are irresponsible and are using what should be of grave concern to all the world − human rights − as a political tool.

Groups who make false human rights claims only harm those groups who are truly interested in finding the truth. They should be identified and discredited.

To insist that Mel Zelaya must be restored to power as some sort of panacea to stop human rights violations is the worst kind of hypocrisy from organizations that know better.

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