Annual Report: Honduras 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Honduras 2010

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Head of state and government José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, deposed in June by Roberto Micheletti
Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes
Population 7.5 million
Life expectancy 72 years
Under-5 mortality 44/35 per 1,000
Adult literacy 83.6 per cent

Human rights protection and the rule of law were undermined following an army-backed coup d'état in June. In the ensuing political crisis, the security forces frequently used excessive force against people who took to the streets to demonstrate. Intimidation and attacks against members of the opposition movement were widespread. There were few, if any, investigations into reports of human rights violations committed during the disturbances.


President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales was forced from power on 28 June and forcibly expelled from the country by a group of opposition politicians backed by the military and led by Roberto Micheletti, former President of the National Congress and member of the Liberal Party of Honduras. A de facto government headed by Roberto Micheletti remained in power until the end of the year. In September, President Zelaya returned to the country and took up residence in the Brazilian Embassy.

The coup was condemned by much of the international community. Political negotiations mediated by the OAS to restore the elected government failed. In November, the de facto government went ahead with elections in which Porfirio ("Pepe") Lobo of the National Party won the majority of the vote, although there was reportedly a high level of abstention. He was due to take office in January 2010.

Arbitrary detention and ill-treatment

Hundreds of protesters, most of them supporters of the Zelaya government, and bystanders were arbitrarily detained, beaten and ill-treated by both police and military officials. Many detainees reported being held in unauthorized detention facilities, such as a sports stadium and military barracks.

  • A 16-year-old girl was arbitrarily detained by police in Tegucigalpa after enquiring where they were taking her father. She was detained for several hours in a cell with nine other women. One police officer took some toilet paper, soaked it in a chemical and set fire to it, releasing toxic smoke into the cell. The girl and women detained reported breathing difficulties and burning eyes and throats, in some cases lasting for several days.
  • In August, Alex Matamoros, a human rights defender working for the Centre for the Investigation and Promotion of Human Rights, was arbitrarily detained in Tegucigalpa when he intervened to stop three boys being beaten by police officers after a demonstration. Alex Matamoros was detained at Manchén Police Headquarters for nearly 12 hours before being released without charge.

Excessive use of force and unlawful killings

The use of live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas by the police and military led to the death of at least 10 people. The arbitrary and indiscriminate use of tear gas, with insufficient warning or precautions, caused physical harm to scores of protesters, including children. Hospitals were not given information about the chemical substances used, hindering them from providing treatment.