Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lobo's Not So Supreme Court

Who judges the judges? Suddenly that's a serious question for Porfirio Lobo Sosa.

One of the recommendations of the official Truth Commission headed by Eduardo Stein was that the Supreme Court needed to submit to an examination of its actions during the coup by a group of magistrates. In particular, its actions with respect to human rights need to be examined, they concluded.

14. The Magistrates of the Supreme Court should submit their actions with regard to human rights violations derived from June 28, 2009, to a national consensus of the legislature to see if they acted against the right to judicial protection of article 25 of the American Human Rights Convention. The commissioners recommend that it be the national council of the Magistrates who should be responsible for an evaluation of all of their acts because it is the entity responsible for the naming of judges, their evaluation of job performance, and the oversight of the career.

Porfirio Lobo Sosa might have seemed to have this in mind when he suggested yesterday that the Supreme Court needs someone to oversee their decisions, their professionalism.

"The Judicial Powers can judge the President of the Republic, the president of Congress, and the representatives; who judges the Judicial Power, that's what's interesting.

Lobo goes on to suggest that there needs to be a Constitutional Court or other body where one can file complaints about judges, including the members of the Supreme Court, and have those complaints heard and evaluated. He came to this position, though, not because of the Truth Commission recommendation, but rather because a Judge in Comayagua released a number of suspects who were captured with more than 70 fragmentation grenades hidden in the door panels of their car. His Security Minister is livid.

Lobo Sosa had no answer when asked who would judge the actions of the Constitutional Court saying "its complicated".

Yes, it is complicated, but not so complicated that this isn't covered by rules.

Honduras, like all of Central America, has a legal code that is based on the Spanish legal code, classified by scholars as a form of the French Napoleonic code. All Central American countries have a legal system that has a court which renders a final, unappealable, decision, just as Honduras and the United States do. Judicial misconduct is handled through other procedures, and generally, the actions of judges in this high court are unregulated to preserve judicial independence. This is a fundamental principal of jurisprudence. The UN warns when government's write laws that degrade that independence (example: El Salvador ).

Porfirio Lobo Sosa's suggestions are a degradation of judicial independence, not a rebalancing of the powers as he suggests, and would likely be called into question by the UN were he to successfully sponsor legislation.

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