HRF calls on the OAS to suspend Honduras' antidemocratic government
NEW YORK (June 30, 2009)— The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) has called on OAS Member States to apply the democratic clause and suspend the government of Honduras that forcibly overthrew President Zelaya. Pursuant to the Charter of the OAS and the Inter-American Democratic Charter, the situation in Honduras amounts to a grave alteration or interruption of the democratic order, and it is the duty of the OAS to act, said HRF.
“In application of its own rules, the OAS must undertake every diplomatic measure that may be conducive to the immediate reinstitution of Honduras’ constitutional President”, said Javier El-Hage, General Counsel of the HRF. “But in case these measures do not render prompt results, the OAS must suspend Honduras’ government from participation in all bodies of the OAS.”
According to the Charter of the OAS, “[a] Member of the Organization whose democratically constituted government has been overthrown by force may be suspended from the exercise of the right to participate” in the OAS (Art. 9). Along the same lines, the Inter-American Democratic Charter states that “access to power in accordance with the rule of law” is an essential element of democracy (Art. 3) and that “an unconstitutional interruption of the democratic order or an unconstitutional alteration of the constitutional regime that seriously impairs the democratic order in a member state, constitutes, while it persists, an insurmountable obstacle to its government’s participation” in the OAS (Art. 19).
“It is profoundly antidemocratic to attempt to solve a crisis between the branches of government, by having the chief of the executive power forcibly sent to exile. The unconstitutional actions by President Zelaya must be addressed in absolute respect of his constitutional rights and not through further unconstitutional acts,” said El-Hage. “The armed forces claim to have acted in compliance with a judicial order and under the approval of the legislative power, but Art. 102 of the Honduras Constitution expressly bans the ‘expatriation’ of any Honduran citizen, let alone a democratically elected president that has not been duly prosecuted. Latin-American politicians must once and for all understand that forcibly overthrowing a President, is simply not an option,” he concluded.
As part of its “Mr. Insulza and the Democratic Charter” project, the HRF has already sent five letters to the Secretary General of the OAS criticizing him for failing to apply the democratic clause against the governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador, which have repeatedly and with impunity violated the essential elements of democracy set forth in Art. 3 of the Democratic Charter. HRF has also strongly condemned the recent resolution favoring the government of Cuba’s reincorporation to the OAS, decrying Castro’s appalling human rights record and its failing to comply with any of the essential elements of democracy, as recognized in the Democratic Charter. “The forcible overthrow of a government is not the only fact that must trigger the activation of the democratic clause. Antidemocratic governments, whether self-defined left-wing or right-wing, simply cannot participate in the OAS,” said HRF.
HRF also announced that in the following days it will publish a legal report that thoroughly addresses the conflict of powers that deteriorated into President Zelaya’s forcible overthrow. The purpose of the report will be to individualize those responsible for each of the constitutional violations effected in Honduras, and to recommend actions for Honduras’ branches of government to democratically solve the political gridlock in the country.
HRF is an international nonpartisan organization devoted to defending human rights in the Americas. It centers its work on the twin concepts of freedom of self-determination and freedom from tyranny. These ideals include the belief that all human beings have the rights to speak freely, to associate with those of like mind, and to leave and enter their countries. Individuals in a free society must be accorded equal treatment and due process under law, and must have the opportunity to participate in the governments of their countries; HRF’s ideals likewise find expression in the conviction that all human beings have the right to be free from arbitrary detainment or exile and from interference and coercion in matters of conscience. HRF does not support nor condone violence. HRF’s International Council includes former prisoners of conscience Vladimir Bukovsky, Palden Gyatso, Armando Valladares, Ramón J. Velásquez, Elie Wiesel, and Harry Wu.
Contact: Javier El-Hage, Human Rights Foundation, (212) 246.8486, email@example.com