Friday, July 30, 2010

OAS Report on Honduras

Yesterday José Miguel Insulza presented to the President of the OAS Permanent Council, Maria Isabel Salvador, the 12 page report of the High Commission appointed to report on conditions in Honduras. The full report has not yet been released, but its conclusions just appeared in the Honduran press.

As reported in El Tiempo, the High Commission proposed seven points that could make it possible for Honduras to return to the OAS:
1. The Commission considers it appropriate to end the legal cases initiated during the de facto regime against ex President Zelaya and his associates under the laws of Honduras. To adopt this recommendation, the Commission has considered that, although the two cases pending against ex-President Zelaya correspond to events that occurred well before the coup, these cases and the action of the Prosecutor's office were formalized shortly after ex-President Zelaya was overthrown in his duties as president of the country, at the same time that they presented other accusations against him like reason, abuse of authority, and others, in the middle of a negative political climate following the coup. It is evident that at the time of initiating those cases [Honduras] lived in a state of constitutional breakdown which it is not possible to ignore. Therefore , these accusations are perceived as politically motivated.

2. The Commission emphasizes the readiness of President Porfirio Lobo to give former President Zelaya the protection he is entitled to as former President of the Republic of Honduras and recommends it be implemented once former President Zelaya returns home.

3. We recommend that ex-President Zelaya ask the Directive Council of PARLACEN to incorporate him into that organization. The Commission considers that said incorporation recognizes ex-President Zelaya as the previous Constitutional President of the Republic of Honduras before President Porfirio Lobo.

4. The Commission considers that the collaboration offered by the Government of Honduras during the visit of the IACHR last May, the communications sent by President Lobo to the Secretary General about this subject, the subsequent actions reported by the Minister Advisor on Human Rights and the Special Prosecutor on Human Rights, and the presence of an external advisor for the investigation of the crimes against journalists and human rights activists, among others, are positive steps. At the same time, the Commission recognizes the necessity of concrete steps in fulfilling the recommendations of the IACHR, especially the following:

4a. Steady progress in the investigations to clarify the murder of various persons, among them journalists and human rights activists.

4b. The adoption of measures to put an end to the threats and attacks on human rights activists, journalists, social communicators, teachers, members of the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular, judges who participated in activities against the coup and the effective implementation of fulfilling the protective measures dictated to protect the life and integrity of numerous at-risk persons. The Commission received the communication of the Minister Advisor on Human Rights informing it that the Secretary of Security had created a Human Rights unit to support the Special Prosecutor of Human Rights.

4c. Provide the Inter-Institutional Commission on Human Rights of Honduras the qualified staff and resources sufficient for them to respond in an efficient manner to defend the human rights of Hondurans and the protective measures of the IACHR. The Commission has seen the letter of the Minister Advisor on Human Rights which reports on the decision of the government to create a Ministry of Justice and Human Rights.

4d. An end to impunity for violations of Human Rights, including those verified by the IACHR and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the UN. The Commission knows about the creation of a Unit for the Investigation of Human Rights Violations in the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights office to support investigations in these cases.

4e. Effective support for the work of the Special Prosecutor of Human Rights and the Office of the Minister Advisor on Human Rights. The Commission values the work that both institutions does, in spite of the precariousness of financial and human resources. We consider this work could have a significant impact on the validity of human rights, if they were assigned the necessary resources to carry out an effect oversight, protection, and transformation of the State to a culture of promotion and protection of human rights. The Commission notes with satisfaction the proposal of the Honduran Government to assign resources to these institutions and supports its prompt implementation. It also knows the requests for collaboration sent to the governments of Colombia and the US for investigation of violations of human rights.

5. The Commission considers the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission must count on the full support and collaboration of all sectors of Honduran society to determine what happened on June 28, 2009. The Commission notes with satisfaction the disposition of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to examine the theme of human rights violations in the context of the coup.

6. The Commission notes the willingness of President Lobo to convoke a national dialogue between the political sectors, in which they would discuss themes of interest to all the parties, with the objective to reach a reconciliation of Honduran society. For this it is necessary to avoid any impediments or hostility towards them, especially towards those opposed to the present government. Their security and protection must be guaranteed by the authorities.

7. The Commission presents this report for consideration by the General Assembly so that, in conformity with the Charter of the OAS and the Inter-American Democratic Charter, it can adopt the decisions it considers appropriate with respect to the situation of Honduras.

These conclusions will not be well received by some sectors in Honduras.

Point 3 makes explicit that the de facto government of Roberto Micheletti should not be recognized as having had any legitimacy. For this international body, presidential succession went from Manuel Zelaya to Porfirio Lobo Sosa. At the same time , the report implicitly recognizes as legitimate the November 2009 elections despite the lack of normal institutional international election observers.

If you read our previous post on Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle's press release on his conversations in Washington with Insulza, representing Manuel Zelaya, many of these points will not be a surprise.

Pastor Fasquelle reported substantial agreement between Insulza and himself on what steps Honduras needed to take to return to the OAS. It was, he reported, Arturo Corrales, representing Lobo, who could not accept some of the points.

Of the five points that Pastor Fasquelle reported he and Insulza agreed on, only his fourth point, a proposal to enlarge the official Truth and Reconciliation Commission by adding a FNRP member, is not mirrored clearly in the final report by the OAS High Commission. In the OAS report, point five presents a watered down wording that calls for the Commission to have the full support and collaboration of all sectors of Honduran society, leaving it to the Honduran government, how to achieve that (or not).

Pastor Fasquelle's fifth point, calling for a broad national dialogue to study the right to a Constitutional Assembly, is redirected in the OAS conclusion six as simply a broad national dialogue, with no mention of a Constitutional Assembly. As it is written in the OAS version, conclusion 6 is a bit puzzling. It calls for a discussion between the political sectors, which would explicitly leave out the FNRP, which is not a political party. There can be no meaningful reconciliation in Honduras without bringing the FNRP to the table.

As the OAS report has just been reported, it's too early to tell what the reaction in Honduras will be. Pay attention to how it gets spun in the different press stories that report on it over the next several days, to get an idea of who feels they have won or lost in this step of the OAS process.

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