UNCLAS TEGUCIGALPA 000181
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV, KDEM, PHUM, HO
SUBJECT: Lobo Commits Honduras to Protection of Human Rights
REF: TEGUCIGALPA 145; TEGUCIGALPA 65
; 09 TEGUCIGALPA 1202
09 TEGUCIGALPA 989
(SBU) Summary. President Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo signed the
Chapultepec Declaration on press freedom in Tegucigalpa on February
18 and committed the Honduran government to support freedom of the
press and human rights. Lobo's government abrogated on February 16
a disarmament decree enacted by the de facto regime in November
2009 and the National Congress recommended on February 9 that the
Council of Ministers abrogate another de facto decree that
empowered the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) to
revoke media licenses. These actions follow the January 20 signing
by President Lobo in the Dominican Republic of the "Agreement for
National Reconciliation and Strengthening of Democracy in Honduras"
in which Lobo pledged to preside over a government that respects
human rights. President Lobo appears committed to improving the
human rights situation in Honduras, which had deteriorated
significantly in the wake of the coup. End Summary.
Lobo Signs Declaration of Chapultepec
(U) President Porforio "Pepe" Lobo signed the Chapultepec
Declaration on February 18 in Tegucigalpa during a press freedom
forum organized by the Inter-American Press Society (SIP) and
hosted by the Central American Technological University (UNITEC).
The event received widespread coverage in national daily
newspapers, including "El Tiempo," "La Prensa," and "El Heraldo."
An article in the February 19 "El Heraldo" reported that during the
event, President Lobo said the Honduran government was committed to
investigating all allegations of human rights violations that have
been raised in past years and quoted President Lobo as saying
"believe me, sincerely, I respect human rights... and I am very
strongly committed to respect for the unrestricted liberties of
thought and opinion and this government requests your help to
achieve this." Many press articles also reported that during
President Lobo's remarks, he cited his experience in the 1980's as
president of Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in the
Department of Olancho.
(U) Note: Adopted by the Hemisphere Conference on Free Speech in
Mexico City on March 11, 1994, the Chapultepec Declaration
establishes the central role of public freedoms and human rights,
especially the freedom of press, in the consolidation of democracy.
The declaration affirms 10 principles outlining the importance of
the freedom of expression and of the press. End Note.
Lobo Government Abrogates Decree Passed by De Facto Regime
(U) The Council of Ministers voted on February 16 to abrogate
executive decree PCM-M-031-2009, which was enacted by the de facto
regime on November 21, 2009 and allowed for the revocation of all
permits to carry firearms ahead of the November 29 general
elections (ref C). A February 17 article in "El Heraldo" reported
that an estimated 853 legally registered firearms and an unknown
number of illegally registered firearms were confiscated under the
disarmament decree. (Note: Under the Honduran law "Control of Arms
and Explosives," Hondurans are allowed to possess up to five
firearms with a permit. End note.)
(U) The congress unanimously approved a February 9 motion
presented by member of congress Edwin Pavon, a member of the
Democratic Union party representing the Department of Cortes,
requesting that the Council of Ministers abrogate executive decree
124-2009. Decree 124-2009 was enacted by the de facto regime on
October 5, 2009 and authorized CONATEL to cancel licenses of media
outlets that "violate national security and public order" (ref D).
The Council of Ministers had not yet taken action on the
Congressional recommendation as of February 25.
The Agreement with President Fernandez
(U) The signing of the Chapultepec Declaration by President Lobo
followed the commitment President Lobo made when he signed the
January 20 "Agreement for National Reconciliation and Strengthening
of Democracy in Honduras" with President of the Dominican Republic
President Leonel Fernandez (ref B). In the agreement, then
President-elect Lobo committed himself to "head a government that
respects human rights, in which there is full enjoyment of civil
liberties and where no Honduran citizen is persecuted for his
political, religious, or other convictions."
(SBU) There was a serious deterioration in human rights during
under the de facto Micheletti regime. While facing multiple and
serious problems brought on by the political and economic crises,
the Lobo government understands the importance of human rights and
has made a strong and early public commitment to their protection.
In our dealings with the new ministers of the Lobo government,
including Minister of Security Oscar Alvarez (ref A), we have found
that these interlocutors take the issue of human rights abuses
seriously and have expressed a genuine willingness to investigate
the wrongs committed prior to Lobo taking office. We will continue
to support efforts by the Lobo government to keep human rights
protections at the forefront.