12 May 2010
AI Index: AMR 37/009/2010
Honduras’ new leaders will be judged by whether they can rise to the challenge of upholding the rule of law and building public faith in the independence of the judiciary, after four judges and a public attorney were removed from their posts, apparently for the sole reason of having been critical of the 28 June 2009 coup d’etat which resulted in the then President Zelaya being ousted from office.
In January 2010, when the new government came into office, Amnesty International urged the authorities to put an end to the intimidation of those who were critical of the coup, including members of the judiciary who faced disciplinary proceedings. Amnesty International considers that the independence of the judiciary is placed in serious question by these dismissals.
Magistrate Tirza del Carmen
The disciplinary proceedings against these justice officials must be dropped and all most be reinstated immediately. The judicial system is seriously undermined by politically motivated harassment of the kind suffered by these officials. An independent judicial system is the corner stone for protecting human rights and ensuring that everyone without discrimination has a right to due process before the law.
Honduran President Manuel Zelaya Rosales was forced from power on 28 June 2009 and expelled from the country by a military backed group of politicians led by Roberto Micheletti, former president of the national Congress. Following the coup d'etat on 28 June 2009 there were closures and occupation of media outlets by military personnel, the beating and physical attack of journalists. Journalists, particularly those investigating organised criminal activity, human rights violations or speaking out about the coup d'etat, have been subjected to threats and intimidation. Some judges, viewed as critical of the coup d’etat and the resulting de facto authorities, experienced a series of arbitrary transferrals and unfair disciplinary proceedings during the de facto governments’ period in control. Members of the organization “Judges for Democracy”, which has been working to promote judicial independence and principles of fairness and transparency in legal proceedings, formed the vast majority of those targeted.
On 12 August 2009, Luis Chevez de la Rocha, a member of Judges for Democracy, was arbitrarily detained in
A de facto government headed by Roberto Micheletti remained in power until the end of 2009. A new government led by Porfirio Lobo took office on 27 January 2010, on the same day Amnesty International released a report titled "
International Secretariat, Amnesty International,