The Center for Constitutional Rights welcomes the safe return of President Manuel Zelaya after he was illegally ousted from Honduras in a military coup d’état in June 2009. His return is a testament to the strength, perseverenace and organization of the national resistance movement that formed in opposition to the coup. With a meeting scheduled for tomorrow in Washington, D.C., we are concerned that President Zelaya’s return will be used to justify the readmittance of Honduras into the Organization of American States (OAS).The readmittance of Honduras to the OAS has never been and should not be solely contingent on the return of President Zelaya. Last year, a high-level OAS commission of member state representatives recommended against readmittance, calling for “concrete actions in compliance with the recommendations” of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, including “steady progress in the investigations into the murder of…journalists and human rights defenders” and “the cessation of impunity for human rights violations.” The commission also called for the “adoption of measures to put an end to threats and harassment against human rights defenders, journalists…and members of the National Popular Resistance Front, and judges who took part in activities against the coup d’état.”Despite these recommendations, the human rights situation in Honduras continues to deteriorate – just last week, Honduran police fired live ammunition and tear gas canisters at protesting high school students. Political killings, illegal arrests, persecution and attacks continue and impunity continues to be the norm for such gross human rights violations in Honduras, including for incidents with clear evidence of state involvement. Clearly, the recommendations to Honduras for readmittance into the OAS have not even begun to be satisfied.The Center for Constitutional Rights denounces the disturbing role the United States government has played in these matters in pushing for normalization of relations with Honduras for well over a year and continuing assistance to the Honduran military and police that have been responsible for serious systemic human rights violations. The U.S. has, in effect, rewarded an illegal coup d’état and subsequent 2009 election that was widely criticized as not being free and fair. We applaud the 87 representatives of the U.S. Congress who this week stood against these human rights abuses in Honduras and called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to “suspend U.S. assistance to the military and police, due to the lack of mechanisms in place to ensure security forces are held accountable for abuses,” among other requests.The Center for Constitutional Rights calls for the continued rejection of Porfirio Lobo’s violent and illegitimate regime by the international community and for a genuine effort towards accountability for both the coup d’etat and for continued human rights violations.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.