Monday, January 11, 2010

Just say no to an un-restricted amnesty and yes to the Truth Commission and restricted amnesty

As the Honduran Congress starts its deliberations of a potential amnesty law project for the people involved with all the events leading to June 28 2009, let us raise our voice and unequivocally say NO to a an un-restricted amnesty. Reports from different newspapers seem to indicate that Congress is discussing three types of crimes that may be covered under the amnesty law project including political (or constitutional), connected and common crimes.

The definition of political and common seem to be apparent, yet the definition of connected crimes can be made so broad that an amnesty law project could in principle cover all crimes committed during the upheaval leading to June 28 2009.

The newspaper  La Prensa (click here to view article) reports the opinion of known penalist lawyer Dagoberto Mejia Pineda, that Mr. Zelaya has been accused of 1) crimes against our government structure, 2) treason, 3) falsification of public documents, 4) abuse of authority,  5) fraud while declaring emergency decrees and making illegal purchases and withdrawing money for publicity for the "Cuarta Urna", illegal implementation of position functions not described in the Presidency's job description.

Mr. Mejia Pineda in fact indicates that of the crimes charged by the Attorney General of Honduras to Mr. Zelaya, all of them may be considered political or connected to the political crimes, and thus with a generalized amnesty Mr. Zelaya will just be absolved of all the crimes he committed during his government. If you want to see a green light for corruption in years to come this is it...a full strike to governance and respect of the law.

What we need to do is to push for the Truth Commission to be implemented based on the San Jose/Tegucigalpa/Guaymuras pact/accord but force all the actors to go to public hearing and confess their crimes as a pre-condition of receiving a restricted amnesty. The restricted amnesty will cover only political crimes. Forget about this nonsense of connected crimes being covered under the amnesty. Much less common crimes. Those should never be forgotten nor forgiven unless those who committed these crimes pay for what they did, stating with the Truth Commission process. If we do not do this, in effect we are saying that we want things to remain the same as before Zelaya. There is a lot of scope for unification and building a country together, but let us not kid ourselves, this process should be based on a clean slate, one that builds upon accepting that we have committed crimes of action or omission. Then, and only then, we move on.

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