Rights group brings FOIA suit against US agencies over Honduras coup

[JURIST] The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) [advocacy website] filed a complaint [text, PDF] on Thursday to compel the release of documents related to the 2009 Honduras coup [JURIST report]. The complaint names the US Department of Defense (DOD) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official websites] as defendants alleging the agencies withheld documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [5 USC § 552; JURIST news archive] regarding if and how the US government and its interests affected the coup. The complaint details the events of the 2009 coup where the Honduran military kidnapped then-president Manual Zelaya from his home and put him on a plane to Costa Rica. The complaint refers to the coup as "one of the most significant recent political events in the region" and states that the US continues to have a close relationship with Honduras, including training members of Honduran military and security forces.

In light of the close relationship between the United States an Honduras, it is probable that little goes on in Honduras without the knowledge of, and/or consultation with, the U.S. Government. ... Despite public information regarding the U.S. Government's knowledge of the coup and its perpetrators, before and during the actual commission of the act, Defendants refuse to release and continue to unlawfully withhold documents responsive to Plaintiff's requests.
In addition to the complaint, the CCR also filed several more FOIA requests [press release] with the DOD and CIA on behalf of the Honduras Commission for Truth (CDV) [official website], an organization tasked with investigating and establishing human rights violations that occurred during the coup.

In November, International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] opened a preliminary investigation [JURIST report] into the 2009 coup. In July, a Honduran court dismissed abuse of power charges against Zeleya because Zelaya's successor granted amnesty [JURIST reports] to Zeleya and those involved in his removal. In June, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] accused the Honduran government [JURIST report] of failing to address human rights violations stemming from the June 2009 coup. AI contends that hundreds of people opposed to the coup have been beaten and detained. The group cited evidence that judges critical of the coup have "suffered a series of arbitrary transferrals and unfair disciplinary proceedings" as well as threats and intimidation.

 

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