Last Thursday I reported about the preliminary hearing of 6 militaries in Honduras for having let Zelaya slip away from justice, by flying him to Costa Rica. The case was delayed by a 6 hour meeting of the entire Supreme Court. Since the proceedings are, unfortunately, not public, I did not know why.
However, thanks to a blog from those who tried to stop the case, it is now in the open.
A group of human rights NGOs in Honduras who are seemingly almost religiously convinced that the change of president on June 28th last year was a military coup, requested that the judge in the case – the president of the court none less – excuse himself. And not just him, but the entire Supreme Court of Justice.
A reading of the request shows that it is not seriously meant. It is just a PR stunt. Starting the pleading by stating that you do not recognize the court’s authority, even accusing them of being coupsters, is hardly the wisest strategy if one is hoping to win support.
So why did they do this legally meaningless stunt?
Consider this: When the military leadership gets prosecuted, the argument for it being a coup falls apart. Therefore they have to try to paint the court as coupsters, them too, hoping that it will make the world ignore the case.
Of course, their argument does not stand up to logic scrutiny. They are implicitly making the following circular argument: “Since the court are coupsters they can’t judge the military; thus it was a military coup; thus the court are coupsters.”
It would be tragic for human rights in Honduras if those organizations only fought windmills. I am talking about CODEH, CIPRODEH, CDM, CPTRT, and others. They have already lost a significant part of their credibility among Hondurans for their intransigency. If they would start respecting the democratic institutions – remember that the Congress is elected by the people, and the Supreme Court is elected by elected representatives – then it would be possible for the state to cooperate with them in advancing the issues of human rights, women’s rights, and so on. But until such a time, they are doing a disfavor to all those whose rights are being violated, and who would need their assistance. They are also doing a disfavor to their foreign donors, e.g. the taxpayers of The Netherlands.
The best thing that could happen is if a competent and impartial court could settle the question once and for all: Was it a coup d’état, or was it a constitutional replacement of president? Someone like the ICC for instance, the International Criminal Court. I suspect that they are looking into it right now, since they have received communication from the organizations I mentioned earlier about suspected human rights abuses. I hope that the prosecutor at ICC comes out soon with his result on the issue of whether it was a coup, so that everybody in Honduras can be on the same page again, legally speaking. The sooner this legal issue is settled the sooner reconciliation can be realized, and the sooner there can be an end to political crimes (which includes a lot of property damage in illegal demonstrations, something that in e.g. Sweden could give up to 4 years in prison for every single participant!).
PS. The only institutional legal study I have seen so far concluded that it was a constitutional succession, and personally I have concluded the same thing after studying legal documents that are linked in some early posts on this blog (Honduras, Mera dokument från Honduras).