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Appendix 7 – Letter from Minister Adviser on Human Rights to Secretary General

ORIGINAL TEXT IN SPANISH

Presidential Residence Honduras, C.A.
Tegucigalpa MDC, July 23, 2009 Doc. No. MDH 007/23/07/2010

Distinguished Secretary General: I am writing to extend to Your Excellency my sincerest thanks for your particular deference in granting Prosecutor Sandra Ponce and myself a hearing before the Organization’s High-Level Commission, allowing us to apprise you of the efforts being made by the State of Honduras in consolidating a culture of respect for human rights. Regarding the development of that hearing, I would like to reaffirm the answers we gave to some of the questions posed by the members of that Commission, with a request that through your good offices they be placed before its distinguished members. 1. Regarding the threats made against human rights defenders, journalists, social communicators, and others, and the harassment they have faced, I would like to point out that the Security Secretary, Mr. Oscar Álvarez, on the orders of the President of the Republic, has issued instructions at the national level requiring police chiefs in the force’s different branches to treat human rights with respect at all times, and warning them that they would be responsible for any breach of that instruction. In addition, during this year, a Human Rights Unit was set up within the Security Secretariat. It comprises two legal professionals, one police officer with experience in the field, and two administrative employees, who are empowered, either at the request of an interested party or on their own initiative, to investigate the kind of incidents described above, in coordination with the office of the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights, and, in urgent cases, to adopt any measures that may be needed. In addition to that, I have secured consensus on a plan for the professionalization of the National Police; it includes awareness-raising and training programs on these issues, and it will be put into practice in the near future. 2. Regarding the effective implementation of the precautionary measures requested by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to ensure the lives and persons of several individuals, I would like to inform you that they are being applied in accordance with the general principle adopted by the Inter-American Commission: that of reaching agreement on them with the people involved. Consequently, a meeting was held with the victims to learn

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Appendix 7 – Letter from Minister Adviser on Human Rights to Secretary General about their current situations and identify the risks they face. In addition, to date 168 precautionary measures, covering 200 persons, have been agreed on; in most of these cases, personal security agents have been assigned to the victims’ workplaces and homes; they have been given permanent, personal escorts; telephones have been provided for urgent reports; foot patrols have been ordered; as well as other measures. 3. With reference to the current status of the investigations underway into the murder of several individuals, including journalists, I would like to report that according to figures from the Public Prosecution Service, 15 prosecutorial summonses have been issued for human rights violations. In the cases involving murdered journalists, the competent legal authority has issued arrest warrants; in one of those cases, formal charges have been brought against the perpetrator of the crime, while in the remaining cases the investigations are coming to an end and will soon be placed before the judicial authorities. 4. Regarding the provision of the means needed for the functioning of the Inter-Institutional Human Rights Commission, the President of the Republic has, as a part of the transformation of the State, resolved to work for better developed institutions rather than adopting a merely circumstantial response. Thus, a Ministry of Justice and Human Rights will be created, with the legal mandate and budget necessary to plan, coordinate, facilitate, and implement all the human rights measures necessary at the national and international levels and to embark on, in the short and medium term, the design and implementation of rights-based public policy that will crystallize into a National Human Rights Action Plan, to be arrived at through consensus with human rights organizations, vulnerable groups, and the sectors and institutions involved. For this purpose, the Government of Spain has provided technical assistance in the person of the renowned Spanish jurist Jesús Fernández Entralgo, who over the space of one week held meetings with former officials in the government of former President José Manuel Zelaya, officers of the judiciary, human rights organizations, officials of the current government, and other key persons, who provided him with sufficient information to analyze the current human rights situation and propose the basic elements for designing and implementing the relevant public policy. 5. Regarding the review of the steps taken against those judges who participated in activities against the coup d’état, I should inform you that the affected parties have lodged the corresponding appeal with the Council of the Judicial Career. However, the President has publicly expressed his disagreement with that measure and, as the President of the Republic and the general administrator of the State under constitutional mandate, and on the basis of the balance of power among the branches of government, he has requested that the measure be reviewed. In this case, it is apparent that there is an urgent need for a prompt legal amendment to ensure the separation of the jurisdictional and administrative functions of the Supreme Court

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Appendix 7 – Letter from Minister Adviser on Human Rights to Secretary General of Justice, with the enactment of the Organic Law of the Judiciary and the Law of the Judicature Council and the Judicial Career. 6. With regard to the levels of impunity prevailing in the country, we recognize that shortcoming and accept that our investigations of human rights violations have not been effective. To address this, the President of the Republic sought the assistance of the government of the United States, which provided us with an FBI agent, while the Republic of Colombia sent several of its police officers, who shared their experiences and know-how with the Honduran police. In addition, the office of the Public Prosecution Service’s Special Prosecutor for Human Rights created the Human Rights Violations Investigations Unit, and the President of the Republic ordered the allocation of six criminal investigators, selected by the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights herself, two vehicles, and logistical materials for investigations to be carried out in the field. Similarly, the President of the Republic has extended an official invitation for the United Nations High Commissioner to open and operate an office representing that organization. He has also extended open invitations to all the special theme-based mechanisms of the United Nations and of the Organization of American States. We trust that these actions, and other measures we have adopted, will serve to bring about a substantial improvement in the current human rights situation in our country. I again state my full willingness to cooperate in the efforts being made by this distinguished body, and I again extend to you my consideration and respect.

Sincerely,

Ana A. Pineda H Minister Advisor for Human Rights

Dr. José Miguel Insulza Secretary General of the Organization of American States