Truth Commission: Honduras
Truth Commission: Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Duration: May 2010-2011
Charter: Decreto Ejecutivo PCM 11-2010 (April 13, 2010)
Commissioners: 5 (3 male, 2 female)
Report: Not yet issued
Truth Commission: Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Comisión de la Verdad y la Reconciliación)
Dates of Operation: May 4, 2010 (date of inauguration) - 2011. The commission was intended to last for at least eight months. It finalized its report in July 2011.
Background: On June 28, 2009, military troops in Honduras ousted then President Manuel Zelaya and flew him out of the country after a power struggle over plans to change the Constitution. The international community condemned the coup and suspended Honduras in the Organization of American States (OAS). Zelaya returned to Honduras and took refuge in the Brazilian embassy. Politicians signed an "Accord for National Reconciliation and the Strengthening of Democracy in Honduras" on October 30, 2009. Among other measures, the agreement stipulated the creation of a truth commission. After elections, the new President, Porfirio Lobo Sosa, signed an amnesty law for crimes related to the coup, and then established a commission tasked with clarifying the events occuring before and after June 28, 2009.
Mandate: The commission was mandated to provide a report on the events leading up to and following the June 28, 2009 coup. It was tasked to identify measures that should be adopted to prevent the recurrence of similar events in the future. The mandate makes no mention of human rights.
Commissioners and Structure: The commission had five members: three men, two women. It was chaired by Mr. Eduardo Stein, a Guatemalan diplomat. Two of the members were citizens of Honduras, the other commissioners were from Guatemala, Canada, and Peru. President Lobo appointed them in Executive Decree PCM 01-2010.
Report: The commission released its report in July 2011. The report concluded that the removal from office of Zelaya was an illegal and unconstitutional succession, as opponents had argued. The report said that the Honduran Congress lacked a clear procedure to resolve power conflicts, such as the conflict that arose in 2009 between the Congress and President Zelaya, but that it had acted beyond its limits in deposing the President. The report also stated that 20 people were killed following the coup.
- The commission has released its report.
- In January 2010, President Lobo signed a decree (Decreto No. 2-2010), which provides for general amnesty for coup-related crimes.
Special Notes: Human Rights groups have established an alternative non-governmental commission, the Comisión de Verdad (CDV), which is led by famous human rights defenders, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel.
"La Comisión de la Verdad de Honduras presentará un informe después de la Asamblea de la OEA." EFE, April 13, 2011. Available at http://www.google.com/hostednews/epa/article/ALeqM5gPd_l8QAh2uecqFPx_RFcgrg?docId=1509071 (accessed April 29, 2011).
Hayner, Priscilla B. Unspeakable Truths: Transitional Justice and the Challenge of Truth Commissions. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2011.
"Honduras Truth Commission rules Zelaya removal was coup." BBC News, July 7, 2011. Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-14072148 (accessed January 23, 2012)
International Center for Transitional Justice. "Honduras: New Truth Commission Should Guarantee Victims' Rights," May 6, 2010. Available at http://www.ictj.org/en/news/press/release/3711.html (accessed April 29, 2011).
Mejia, Themla. "Truth Commission Under Fire from All Sides." Inter Press Service, April 19, 2010. Available at http://ipsnews.net/new.asp?idnews=51101 (accessed April 29, 2011)
"Comisión de la Verdad y la Reconciliación [official commission]." Available at http://www.cvr.hn (accessed April 29, 2011).
"Comisón de Verdad [alternative commission]." Availabel at http://www.comisiondeverdadhonduras.org (accessed April 29, 2011)