Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lobo: Supreme Court Is Enemy of the State

Porfirio Lobo Sosa said over the weekend that the Supreme Court, whose Constitutional branch recently concluded that the police cleanup law is unconstitutional, is an enemy of the state. 

Speaking after the ruling, Lobo Sosa said:
"This is like fighting for a way, but there is an enemy of Honduras there, and everything that we do it overturns, as in the case of the Regiones Especiales de Desarrollo or model cities; it's like the court is playing against the country....The police cleanup will continue despite the opposition of the Supreme Court."
 OK, the finer points of constitutional separation of powers seem to be beyond the Lobo Sosa administration's grasp, but that's hardly news for any of our gentle readers. But there is more to this story, and the more is one word: intimidation.

What Lobo Sosa is attempting to do is to shame the whole Supreme Court, which must still vote on the police cleanup law because the Constitutional branch's vote was not unanimous.  In theory they have 10 days to do so.  Until they vote, the cleanup goes on.

After calling the court out as enemies, he later said that he was confident that Chief Justice Jorge Rivera Avilés would give the Executive branch time to remedy the parts of the law that affect the accused's due process rights.

This is, of course, a tacit admission by Lobo Sosa that the law as written actually is flawed.

As if to underline his willful ignorance of the separation of powers, Lobo Sosa told HRN radio later in the day that he was urging the president of Congress, Juan Orlando Hernandez, to push through the Referendum and Plebiscite law so that the people can decide if the government should continue with the police cleanup or not. 

Lobo Sosa doesn't seem to be acknowledging that an unconstitutional act passed by plebiscite or referendum would still be unconstitutional and subject to court review under the Honduran constitution.

(This is a situation not unlike the one that led to the coup d'etat overthrowing ex-President José Manuel Zelaya. Then, based on Zelaya's interpretation of existing laws, he wanted to put in place a public poll-- much less than a referendum or "plebiscite"-- about whether or not to convene a constitutional convention.) 

The current Executive Branch (under Lobo Sosa) and Legislative Branch (led by Orlando Hernández) have had particular problems with writing legislation that preserves people's constitutional rights. 

No one, not even the Honduran Supreme Court, would argue that there isn't corruption in the police, and that it must be removed.  Instead of doing things the easy, unconstitutional way, the Lobo Sosa administration is being urged to do it in a legal, somewhat harder, fashion. 

After all, lie detector tests are fallible, drug tests can record false positives, and someone accused of corruption must be able to defend themselves against the charge, if it's false.

So says the Honduran constitution. That's the opinion of the Sala Constitucional of the Supreme Court.

Which the President of Honduras says makes the Supreme Court the enemy of Honduras.

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