Honduras: True Commission and CCR Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests

At a Glance

Current Status 

The True Commission’s FOIA requests are still pending in the administrative stage. In Bigwood, the defendants' motion for summary judgment is also pending.

Date Filed: 

March 23, 2011

Co-Counsel 

The Center for Social Justice at Seton Hall Law School, Zachary Wolfe of the George Washington University.

Client 

Jeremy Bigwood and the True Commission

Case Description 

CCR has been involved in advocacy aimed to address systemic human rights violations in Honduras arising out of the June 28, 2009, military coup d’etat that ousted democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya. One year after the coup, on June 28, 2010, the Human Rights Platform of Honduras created the True Commission or “Comisión de Verdad” (CDV for its acronym in Spanish) to respond to the Honduran people’s demand for a thorough and independent inquiry into the 2009 coup and to the inadequacies of the coup government’s appointed Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CVR for its acronym in Spanish). CCR has supported the work of the True Commission in using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to request records and information from the U.S. government relating to the coup and its aftermath. In these efforts, CCR represents both the True Commission as well as Jeremy Bigwood, an independent journalist seeking to obtain this information. 

Case Timeline

September 2014

Court denies summary judgment motion without prejudice, orders new Vaughn index

September 2014

Court denies summary judgment motion without prejudice, orders new Vaughn index

On September 8, 2014, the court issued an order denying DOD's motion for summary judgment without prejudice. The order noted that SoComm's Vaughn index did not include the particular bases on which the DOD redacted each document and directed the government to submit a revised version listing the particular bases for redactions for each document. On September 22, 2014, the government submitted a revised index. The court subsequently renewed the motion for summary judgment and plaintiff's related motion for leave to file a surreply and took both motions under advisement.

March 2014

Plaintiff files its opposition to the government's summary judgment motion

 

March 2014

Plaintiff files its opposition to the government's summary judgment motion

 

On March 18, 2014, plaintiff filed its opposition to the DOD's motion for summary judgment, including a declaration by electronic search expert Daniel Regard, along with various exhibits.

January 2014

Government moves for summary judgment

January 2014

Government moves for summary judgment

On January 28, 2014, the Government filed its motion for summary judgment, including its statement of material facts not in dispute and declarations by staff in the DOD's Southern Command (SoComm), SoComm's Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Directorate (J2), and the CIA, along with its Vaughn index. 

September 2013
DOD produces additional pages in response to the litigation
September 2013
DOD produces additional pages in response to the litigation

On September 26, 2013, DOD produced 800 additional pages of redacted documents in response to the litigation.

October 2012

True Commission releases historic report 

October 2012

True Commission releases historic report 

On October 3, 2012, CCR issued a statement on the release of the True Commission's historic report, which includes extensive documentation and findings regarding the 2009 coup and subsequent human rights violations.

June & July 2011
DOD produces hundreds of pages of heavily redacted documents in response to the litigation
June & July 2011
DOD produces hundreds of pages of heavily redacted documents in response to the litigation

On June 20, 2011, and July 7, 2011, the DOD produced close to 500 pages of heavily redacted documents in response to the litigation. The CIA continues to neither confirm nor deny the existence of documents responsive to Bigwood’s request.

May 2011

Government files answer in Bigwood litigation 

May 2011

Government files answer in Bigwood litigation 

On May 4, 2011, the U.S. government files its answer in response to plaintiff's complaint.
March 2011

CCR helps launch effort to demand documents from U.S. about 2009 coup

March 2011

CCR helps launch effort to demand documents from U.S. about 2009 coup

On March 23, 2011, CCR filed a suit on behalf of investigative journalist Jeremy Bigwood against the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for withholding documents that should have been handed over under Mr. Bigwood’s earlier FOIA requests.  Bigwood v. DOD, et al. seeks information under FOIA regarding the role that various U.S. interests, actors, or agencies may have played around the 2009 coup d’état.  

The following day, on March 24, 2011, CCR sent a series of FOIA requests on behalf of the True Commission to DOD and CIA. The requests seek information in support of the Commission's efforts to: investigate human rights violations, including through extensive interviews with the victims; make a full analysis of why the coup occurred; and explore the historical significance of the overthrow of Zelaya. You can learn more about the Commission's work on its Spanish-language Web site.