Mr. Herman Van ROMPUY, President of the European Council.
Ms. Catherine ASHTON, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security.
Mr. José Manuel BARROSO, President of the European Commission.
Mr. Fredrik REINFELDT, Prime Minister, Sweden.
Mr. Carl BILDT, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sweden.
Mr. Miguel Ángel MORATINOS, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Spain.
Mr. Jan KOHOUT, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Czech Republic.
Member states of the European Union.
Brussels, December 3, 2009
RE: EU declaration on the situation in Honduras after the elections.
In view of the Declaration on December 1 by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the situation in Honduras after the elections, the undersigned European civil society platforms express great concern regarding the absence of a clear message for the non-recognition by the EU of these elections. Furthermore, by stating that the European Union sees the elections as a significant step forward in solving the crisis in Honduras, the EU has become inconsistent with its previous positioning, and consequently moving towards setting a dangerous precedent by legitimising the breaking of constitutional order in Honduras, as well as to the number of human rights violations committed by the de facto government prior to these elections.
In its Declaration, the Presidency acknowledges that the electoral process took place under abnormal circumstances. We would like to draw your attention to the fact that the minimum conditions to carry out free, fair and transparent democratic elections were not in place in the case of Honduras on November 29 and the preceding electoral campaign. We can ascertain this position for the following reasons:
- The Elections were held under a de facto government installed through a coup d´état on June 28, 2009, which has been unanimously condemned on several occasions by the international community including the European Union, which is reconfirmed in the declaration by the Presidency.
- Elections were held in a context of serious and systematic human rights violations, violence and tension. There are numerous reports from national and international human rights organisations, the mission of the International Observatory for Human Rights in Honduras (OISDHHN) as well as institutions such as in the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR), the UN and the OAS concerning the suppression and violations of fundamental freedoms and rights since the coup. Among the violations reported are: thousands of arbitrary detentions, excessive use of force and beating of protestors by police and military, killings of protesters and political opponents, torture, sexual abuse and intimidation of human rights defenders. According to the (OISDHHN), this level of violence and intimidation falls under the remit of political persecution as a crime, which is covered under the competence of the International Criminal Court.
- Fundamental rights and freedoms are essential elements for the exercise of civil participation in an electoral campaign (e.g. the right to personal freedom, freedom of expression, association and assembly). These have been violated through official government decrees. The freedom of the press and of opinion have also been severely undermined and restricted through repression of media opposing the coup, which has limited the Honduran population´s access to information. Violations include the closing down of media criticizing the coup, cancellation and censoring of programmes, threats, persecution and violence towards journalists and illegal detentions.
- The elections have been carried out in a context of militarization. Five thousand people from the military reserve were called in, and a state of national emergency was declared for the period of the elections.
On November 11, the then Trade Commissioner Cathrine Ashton stated in a debate in the European Parliament that the fact that the Honduran Parliament had not decided upon reinstalling President Zelaya threatened the recognition of the legitimacy of the elections. She also stated that the EU considered the full implementation of the Tegucigalpa / San José Agreement a precondition for the return to normal EU relations with Honduras, including development cooperation. According to the Presidency statement, the European Union awaits the outcome of the deliberations of the Honduran Congress scheduled for 2 December 2009. It is now clear that the Honduran congress voted against reinstalling President Manuel Zelaya to serve out the last two months of his term. This decision means upholding the coup as well as a final breach of the Tegucigalpa / San José agreement.
To recognise the elections under these abnormal circumstances will, rather than being a step forward in solving the crisis, consolidate the coup, legitimise the breaking of constitutional order and ignore a number of human rights violations. It would also set a regrettable precedence in a region with a history of military coups, violations of human rights and impunity, and would set the standard for an undesired regional instability.
We urge the European Union:
- To reject and not recognise the elections carried out in Honduras on November 29.
- To maintain the suspension of the European development cooperation with the Honduran government and increase the direct development cooperation to civil society, especially those working on governance and human rights issues.
- To recommend to EU member states to continue and widen restrictions for the entry into the EU against representatives of the Honduran de facto government.
- To suspend or maintain the suspension of any technical or otherwise support given to the Honduran Army or Police.
- To remain vigilant regarding the human rights situation, especially as regards the right to peaceful demonstration and freedom of the press.
- To continue with the suspension of the negotiations of the Association Agreement with Central America until constitutional order has been restored.
- To condition the reestablishment of any engagement with the EU to the implementation of an inclusive and integrated national dialogue, which establishes clear and verifiable agreements for the return of democracy, the establishment of a new social and political pact that allows rebuilding the institutional structures in the country.
Looking forward to your reply.
Rob van Drimmelen
APRODEV Association of World Council of Churches related Development Organisations in Europe.
President of CIFCA Copenhagen Initiative for Central America and Mexico
President FIDH International Federation for Human Rights.
Dilcia FIGUEROA President,