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Concern about future of civil liberties, human rights after OAS readmits Honduras

(AMARC/RSF/IFEX) - 7 June 2011 - The Latin America and Caribbean division of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC-ALC) and Reporters Without Borders were not surprised by last week's readmission of Honduras to the Organization of American States in return for ousted President Manuel "Mel" Zelaya's return but they are concerned about what will follow this deal, the subject of much criticism within Honduras, and will monitor developments closely.

The OAS, which had suspended Honduras for deposing Zelaya and sending him into exile in a June 2009 coup d'état, voted almost unanimously to readmit Honduras at a special meeting in Washington on 1 June, four days after Zelaya was allowed to return. Only Ecuador opposed its readmission.

"Virtually all the OAS members states agreed to this but not the citizens of Honduras and still less the media, journalists and human rights organizations we have been supporting for the past two years," AMARC-ALC and Reporters Without Borders said. "Our organizations had repeatedly called for significant concessions from Honduras in return for its readmission to the OAS."

In particular, we had called for:

- An end to impunity for crimes against journalists, human rights activists and others, for the attacks and acts of sabotage against news media, and for the closures of media; and the restoration of broadcast frequencies that have been suspended or withdrawn. A total of 11 journalists and one media owner have been killed since 2010. Four other journalists and a media owner have survived targeted attacks since the start of 2011.

- Reform of broadcasting and telecommunications legislation, which has become obsolete and makes no provision for community and social media, although this is required by Inter-American legal standards.

- Access to state information about responsibility for the most serious human rights violations that have taken place since the coup.

"In our view, these points should have been a condition for Honduras' readmission and it is important that they should be quickly taken into consideration now," AMARC-ALC and Reporters Without Borders said.

"The agreement that Zelaya and President Porfirio Lobo reached in Cartagena on 22 May - with the support of the Colombian and Venezuelan governments - included only one of the four pre-conditions that were needed - the condition of Zelaya's return. But political normalization does not mean justice. This does nothing to guarantee the real restoration of civil liberties, pluralism and the rule of law," the two organisations noted.

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