Honduras: Human rights and rule of law at serious risk

Amnesty International said that Honduran President Manuel Zelaya must be able to return to Honduras immediately, without conditions and safely.

“The forced removal of President Zelaya places human rights and the rule of law in serious danger,” said Kerrie Howard, Americas Deputy director at Amnesty International.

The organization fears that human rights and political activists who support or are seen to support President Zelaya may be arbitrarily detained in the context of the political turmoil and expressed concerns about their safety.

“We would consider those detained because of their criticism of the forced removal and forced exile of President Zelaya as prisoners of conscience,” said Kerrie Howard.

Amnesty International is also concerned at reports suggesting that TV channels have been closed and restrictions placed on mass media communications, preventing people from learning about developments in their country.

Amnesty International urged the Honduran authorities to fully respect human rights and fundamental freedoms; to immediately release any government officials and political activists who may be currently detained; to refrain from further arbitrary detentions and to guarantee that political opponents and human rights defenders are able to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of reprisal.

Background Information Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was detained by Honduran military personnel and forced into exile. Several government ministers are also reported to have been detained. Roberto Micheletti, Congress speaker, has been sworn in as “Interim President”. Mr Micheletti has imposed a two-night long curfew.