A Perspective from Honduras' Civil Society Truth Commission
York University - Osgoode Hall Law School
March 9, 2011
The present document formed the basis for a presentation by the author to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development of the House of Commons of Canada during a March 9, 2011, hearing on the situation in Honduras. After referencing the June 28, 2009, coup d’ état in Honduras, the author describes how the post-coup political situation led to the creation of two commissions – a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Comisión de la Verdad y de Reconciliación, or CVR) given its mandate to investigate the “crisis” of June 28, 2009, by the current holder of the Honduran Presidency, Porfirio (Pepe) Lobo, and a Truth Commission (Comisión de Verdad, or CV) given a mandate centred on both the coup and the post-coup human rights environment by a coalition of six Honduran human rights organizations. From his perspective as one of nine commissioners on Honduras’ civil-society Truth Commission, the work of that commission is outlined in terms of the approach being taken to its research and analysis. Three central messages are then conveyed. First, the situation in Honduras since the coup has been one of human rights peril and, surprisingly as it may seem to some external observers, the situation may be getting worse in significant respects since the de facto, post-coup regime gave way in January 2010 to a President who emerged from an electoral process six months after the coup. Second, Honduras, other states, and the Organization of American States should think of the truth-seeking mandates of the two commissions in terms of a certain complementarity, as a result of which all actors should have the benefit of the reports of both commissions in order to allow broader, more informed, and more inclusive national and international deliberations on ways forward for Honduras. Third, each commission has its work cut out for it with respect to understanding the multiple ways in which the compromised state of the rule of law in Honduras is central to the problems of Honduras and in which transformation of that situation is central to any meaningful way forward for Honduras. Appendices include: a document tabled by Craig Scott in advance of the Standing Committee hearing, being a distillation into some 10 pages of an October 2010 6'2page report prepared by Reina Rivera Joya for the Dutch NGO, HIVOS/ Humanist Institute for Development Cooperation (Impunity in Honduras [Post Coup d'Etat June 28, 2009]: General Guidelines for Engagement ); and a document tabled by another hearing witness, Bertha Oliva of COFADEH / Comité de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos de Honduras, being another 1'2page distillation of a longer report just released by COFADEH in March 2011 (Report on the Human Right Situation in Honduras - January 2010 to January 2011). Both original documents were in Spanish and the English versions in Appendices 4 and 5 were translated by the translation services of the Parliament of Canada.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 79
Keywords: transitional justice, Latin America, Honduras, OAS, Organization of American States, impunity, human rights, Rule of Law, Canada, truth, reconciliation, criminal justice, United Nations, truth commissions, coup d’etat, civil society, comparative law, international law, democracy
JEL Classification: K39
Date posted: March 25, 2011