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HONDURAS
Opposition criminalized
12/10/2010
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Anti-terrorist law under fire amid impunity for human rights violations.

Honduran lawmakers Nov.18 approved a controversial law to stem funding for terrorism, but opponents argue that it simply criminalizes political opposition.

The 83-article legislation says nongovernmental organizations must report to the state their donations above US$2,000 along with a list of their assets including vehicles and equipment.

Security Secretary Óscar Álvarez Guerrero said they must “show that they used the resources for social advancement and not for marches that destabilize the country.

His statements confirm what the National Popular Resistance Front had previously denounced: President Porfirio Lobo is trying to dissolve the resistance movement.

The Front, a broad coalition of political and civil society organizations, joined forces to oppose the coup that unseated President Manuel Zelaya in June 2009, three and a half years after he took office.

Wilfredo Méndez, coordinator of the Center for Research and Promotion of Human Rights said: “At the heart of this, it’s not about controlling whether resources are effectively invested or come from good sources, but rather, to intervene in the agenda and avoid that the organizations … propel social change.”

The bill’s approval came after the government appeared before the United Nations Security Council, which found continued impunity for human rights violations since the coup.

Other questioning came from the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela, who visited Tegucigalpa in early December and joined the international community in its worry of continued human rights violations and subsequent impunity in the country.

The Chilean-born Valenzuela highlighted crimes against activists and journalists. Since June 28 to December 2009, 53 people were killed under political motives, most of them union leaders, students and left-leaning politicians, all crimes that have not been properly investigated, let alone ended in any convictions.

In the first six months of the year, nine journalists were killed, making Honduras one of the most dangerous countries in the Western Hemisphere for journalists.

Valenzuela also said that Honduras’ return to the Organization of American States would depend on the return of former President Zelaya, who received asylum in the Dominican Republic. Honduras had been suspended from the regional body after the coup.

Even though Lobo, who was elected in November 2009, has said he would lift two charges of alleged corruption against Zelaya so he could return freely, Zelaya denied in a Dec. 7 letter that there are any negotiations with the current government.
—Latinamerica Press.


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