National Lawyers Guild Calls for the U.S. to Disavow the Legitimacy of Elections in Honduras

November 29, 2009
Susan Scott
NLG International Committee
415 669-1745

The National Lawyers Guild calls on President Obama and the U.S. Department of State not to recognize the elections in Honduras, which were conducted under the control of an illegitimate coup government.

In the week leading up to Sunday’s elections, several NLG members went to Honduras to document conditions there. Tanya Brannan and Kevin Breslin reported numerous repressive measures taken by military and police under command of the Coup government. “While CNN reports a 70% turnout at the elections, even the official Honduran electoral agency admits a mere 1.7 million Honduran voted yesterday,” said Brannan. “So even by the government’s own admission, some 70% of Hondurans voted not to legitimize the military coup. Can our government do any less?"

Yesterday, member Tanya Brannan stood outside the U.S. Embassy in Honduras in protest of the U.S. government’s apparent support of the election. The demonstration drew substantial attention from the Honduran national police, including their elite riot squad, the Cobras, who came out in force. As one bystander observed, “The U.S. government has brought out their helicopters and Honduran riot police to repress a handful of their own citizens trying to exercise their right to free speech. What are they afraid of?”

The National Lawyers Guild has been monitoring the situation in Honduras since the military removed the duly elected president, Manuel Zelaya, on June 28. A climate of fear, intimidation and the suppression of the most basic rights of free association and speech has resulted in the closure of media outlets that are opposed to the coup. There has been widespread militarization, along with assassination, detention, threats, rape, surveillance and harassment of the leadership and supporters of the coup resistance.

Having analyzed the legal and constitutional issues involved and sending delegations to Honduras, the NLG has verified that the election of November 29, 2009 was not free, fair or transparent, and the United States government should join the international community in refusing to recognize its legitimacy. It should speak out forcefully against the coup, close down all U.S. military operations in Honduras, and block all U.S. aid and trade that benefits the illegal coup and its supporters.

In August, the NLG sent a joint delegation to Honduras with the Association of American Jurists and International Association of Democratic Lawyers to meet with members of the Honduran Supreme Court and other government officials supporting the coup and leaders of the coup resistance and social movements. Their preliminary report, including an analysis of the constitutional issues, is available on the website of the NLG International Committee: http://www.nlginternational.org/com/main.php?cid=1.

The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 and is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.

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