Honduras truth commission says coup against Zelaya was unconstitutional

[JURIST] The Honduran Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Thursday released their final report [Heraldo report, in Spanish] on the June 2009 coup [JURIST report] that removed Manuel Zelaya [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] from power, declaring the coup unconstitutional, but stating that Zelaya was culpable when he ignored orders of the Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish]. The Commission, while criticizing the coup, did note that there is no formal judicial process in the Constitution of Honduras [text, in Spanish] to remove a corrupt elected official, as Zelaya allegedly was.

This way [a coup] of processing the political crisis, using a procedure outside the law, using force to oust the president abroad and using the military to resolve a political conflict, first, showed the low capacity of the political class to reach an agreement and, second, the inability of democratic institutions to resolve the crisis using the mechanisms and provisions of the laws of Honduras.
The Commission had several recommendations [Heraldo report, in Spanish] for Honduras, including: revise the Constitution to grant more rights and limit Executive power, clarify the role of the Armed Forces in a crisis, create a new structure for choosing the judiciary, and investigate and prosecute all human rights violations that occurred during Zelaya's removal. The Organization of American States (OAS) [official website] praised the report [press release], saying they "hoped Honduran society would retake the active road towards facing the serious problems of its population: poverty, crime, and the need for economic and social development."

Zelaya signed an agreement [JURIST report] in May allowing his return to the country after nearly two years in exile. Earlier that month, a Honduran court dismissed the two remaining conspiracy charges [JURIST report] against Zelaya, clearing the way for his return to the country. In March, the Center for Constitutional Rights [advocacy website] filed a complaint [text, PDF] to compel the release of documents related to the coup [JURIST report]. The complaint names the US Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency [official websites] as defendants, alleging the agencies withheld documents regarding if and how the US government and its interests affected the coup. In November, International Criminal Court [official website] chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] opened a preliminary investigation [JURIST report] into the coup. Last July, a Honduran court dismissed abuse of power charges against Zelaya because his successor granted amnesty [JURIST reports] to Zelaya and those involved in his removal. In June 2010, Amnesty International [advocacy website] accused the Honduran government [JURIST report] of failing to address human rights violations stemming from the coup. AI contends that hundreds of people opposed to the coup were beaten and detained.

 

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