UN expert criticizes actions of authorities, Supreme Court in Honduras

Skyline of the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa

10 July 2009 – An independent United Nations human rights expert has criticized the actions of the de facto authorities in Honduras, and the behaviour of the Supreme Court, and called for an immediate return to the rule of law following the recent coup d’état.

President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales was ousted by the military on 28 June, just hours before a referendum on changing the Honduran constitution was due to be held.

Leandro Despouy, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, called the actions of the current authorities, led by the President of the Congress, Roberto Micheletti, as “inappropriate.”

In a statement issued in Geneva, he added that the behaviour of the Court since the coup have “attempted to endorse and give legal support to the breakdown of the rule of law” and departs from the principles of independence and impartiality that should characterize that body.

Mr. Despouy was among four rights experts – all of whom report to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council – who last week called for the immediate restoration of democracy in the Central American nation and the lifting of curbs on fundamental freedoms.

The ouster of Mr. Zelaya has prompted condemnations from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the 192-member General Assembly, whose President, Miguel D’Escoto, accompanied the deposed leader as he attempted to fly back to Honduras last week. They were prevented from landing at the airport in the capital, Tegucigalpa.

Mr. Ban has called on the Organization of American States (OAS) to lead efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the ongoing crisis, which has reportedly led to at least two deaths and several injuries as soldiers clashed with protesters.

Speaking to reporters in New York, Mr. D’Escoto said he believes there will be a solution soon.

“I hear, but I’m not sure, that we may be very close to a solution of the restitution of President Zelaya,” he stated, adding “let’s not claim victory until it actually happens.

“Nothing short of his total return to the presidency for which he was elected and the unconditional return is acceptable,” said the Assembly President. “I have the feeling we are moving in that direction rather quickly. Maybe I will be proven wrong but I hope not.”


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