The International Federation for Human Rights spoke up on Thursday for victims of the 2009 military coup in Honduras, calling for investigations into abuses to continue despite the case being dropped by the International Criminal Court.
“Crimes of political persecution, assassination, forced disappearances, sexual and gender-based crimes, and forced displacement were committed in a systematic way as a result of the 2009 coup d’etat,” the international human rights organization, also known as FIDH said in a statement. “The coup destroyed the rule of law in Honduras.”
The call for crimes to be investigated comes after the International Criminal Court ruled Wednesday that it will not investigate the coup in Honduras. While the ICC stated that prosecutors do not want to “minimize” the rights violations committed in Honduras, these abuses do not constitute crimes against humanity.
“Crimes resulting from the 2009 coup d’etat must be investigated, even without ICC.”
FIDH and its affiliated Honduran human rights organizations Cofadeh and Ciprodeh said that they “deeply” lamented the ruling, calling attention to cases of grave human rights abuses in the months following the coup.
“It is unacceptable to leave the victims of the mentioned crimes without access to justice and reparation," the organizations stated.
The organizations echoed social movements in calling for the establishment of an independent international body, backed by the U.N., to lead investigations. Such a body, such as the International Commission Against Impunity in Honduras or CICIH proposed by popular movements to investigate corruption, could lead a probe into coup-related abuses in the absence of the Honduran government or ICC launching such investigations, FIDH said.
On June 28, 2009, a U.S.-backed military coup ousted democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya, flying him to exile in Costa Rica. Zelaya, of the Liberal Party, had planned to hold a non-binding poll on whether to hold a referendum in the upcoming election on convening a constituent assembly to rewrite the Honduran constitution.
“ICC will not prosecute the crimes committed after the 2009 coup d’etat in Honduras.”
Coup-backers accused Zelaya of attempting to manipulate the Honduran constitution to extend his presidency, even though the non-binding poll would not have changed the fact that he could not run for re-election in the November 2013 general election.
Since the coup, the human rights situation in Honduras has deteriorated drastically, leading commentators to give Honduras the moniker of the “murder capital of the world.” Left-wing activists, journalists, indigenous people, campesinos, human rights defenders, and women are among those who have suffered the greatest abuses.
In the northern Aguan Valley region alone, close to 150 campesino activists have been killed since 2010.
FIDH and its affiliates raised particular concern about these human rights violations in the Aguan Valley, where heavy militarization in the wake of the coup, along with a deep culture of impunity, has compounded repression and criminalization of campesinos.
La llamada "impunidad" no es sino el natural ejercicio del poder oligárquico. #SiFueGolpeDeEstado— Gilberto Ríos grillo (@Grillo779) October 29, 2015
“So-called ‘impunity’ is nothing but the natural exercise of oligarchic power. #YesItWasACoup.”
The organizations demand that grave crimes such as extrajudicial killing, sexual violence, and political persecution, among others, be investigated and prosecuted.
According to the ICC investigation, coup-related human rights abuses are “directly attributable” to the de facto coup regime, which implemented various restrictions on freedom of movement, assembly, and expression with special police and military enforcement.