Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Congress versus the Supreme Court

There's an interesting fight brewing between Juan Orlando Hernandez, President of the National Congress, and Jorge Rivera Aviles, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Yesterday, Juan Orlando Hernández told the television program Frente a Frente there was a possibility that Congress would remove some of the magistrates of the Supreme Court. Proceso Digital has a transcript of the interview with Juan Orlando Hernández. The transcript in Proceso Digital disagrees with some of the details in the reporting in El Heraldo, La Tribuna, and La Prensa.

He said this in answering a question about pressure on the Supreme Court.
"As President of Congress, I can't be inconsistent, that is false, there are documents that wish to discredit members of the Court and assure us that the documents by which some judges were dismissed were falsified, and this is the object of a demand at international organizations that will condemn us it that's true; and I hope to know the document, I need to see view and see it, and if I can't do it...I should be dismissed."

The contention is that the legal warrant used to dismiss the 4 judges and a magistrate, was falsified, and that false document was used to justify their dismissal. He said that the Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) has opened an investigation, and that the information sent to the CIDH and to Congress by the Supreme Court was incomplete and false.
"They [several magistrates] sent me a scanned copy of the dismissal letter which didn't agree with the report sent by the Court to the CIDH.
He answered a few more questions, and then he said perhaps the most interesting thing.
"Today the Court said that the Congress cannot remove a prosecutor, but it warranted that it can remove a President, and that is contradictory and they need to be consistent in their actions and this is a topic we will deeply tackle next."

El Heraldo claims that 4 of the Supreme Court magistrates are in Congress's sites.

In the meantime, Jorge Rivera Avilés, the Chief Justice, denies there was any falsification.
"There has been no falsification of any document, the information that has come to the President of Congress has no relationship to reality."

The Chief Justice said that if Congress wants to investigate the Court,
"First it has to qualify a just cause,which then they have to make known to the Secretary of Security and the Prosecutor's office; once that's established, they will analyze if there is a just cause for the Congress to continue."

So in Jorge Rivera Avilés's world, Congress can only investigate the Supreme Court if the Secretary of Security (Oscar Alvarez, an Executive branch appointment) and the Prosecutor (Luis Rubí, appointed by Congress) agree they have a good reason to proceed.

I have not found the above procedure codified in any Honduran law. I have not been able to locate the scans of the dismissal letter which Hernandez says are circulating on the internet.

Reading between the lines, the four magistrates of the Supreme Court who signed the original dismissal letter before the full court reviewed the dismissal of the judges and magistrates last year are the ones that are being investigated by Congress.

Apparently at issue for Hernándezis whether or not the Court issued a permission for members to march in support of the de facto regime or the UCD, yet sanctioned members who marched against the de facto regime. Voselsoberano used to have a scan of a circular that purported to be such a permission, but the story archive appears to be empty now.

Stay tuned.

1 comment:

RNS said...

Today the Asociación de Jueces y Magistrados de Honduras accused some Congress people and Juan Orlando Hernández of interfering with the independence of the judiciary.

They named their own commission to investigate problems with the dismissal of 4 judges and a magistrate last year.

They further brought up the red herring of Article 22 of the Código Procesal Penal, which prohibits limiting or interfering with the exercise of a judges jurisdictional function. That doesn't really apply to investigating inconsistencies between what the Court told the CIDH and what the Court told the dismissed judges, hence, red herring.