One policy decision that reflects this approach was the removal, fromof the opportunity introduced in for some debtors to seek early discharge from bankruptcy. The reduced period of bankruptcy is seen to discourage debtors from trying to enter formal or informal arrangements with their creditors to settle debts, and provides little opportunity for debtors to become better financial managers. In fact, a frequent advantage trumpeted for entering formal arrangements with creditors is that debtors avoid the stigma of bankruptcy and the limitations imposed on bankrupts.
After the coup, security forces committed serious human rights violations, killing some protesters, repeatedly using excessive force against demonstrators, and arbitrarily detaining thousands of coup opponents. The de facto government installed after the coup also adopted executive decrees that imposed unreasonable and illegitimate restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
Since the inauguration of President Porfirio Lobo in Januarythere have been new acts of violence and intimidation against journalists, human rights defenders, and political activists. This report documents 47 such cases, including 18 killings.
While some of these attacks may be the result of common crime, available evidence—including explicit threats—suggest that many were politically motivated.
Impunity for violations has been the norm. No one has been held criminally responsible for any of the human rights violations committed under the de facto government in And available information indicates that there has been little or no progress in investigating the attacks and threats that have occurred this year.
This lack of accountability—and the ongoing violence and threats—have had a chilling effect on free speech and political participation in Honduras, particularly among those who opposed the coup.
Until Honduran authorities take concrete steps to reduce impunity and curb the ongoing attacks, it will be difficult for the country to restore trust in its democratic system.
Judges have acquitted the defendants in eight cases and the rest are still pending before the courts, some of them stalled because the accused are at large.
This lack of progress in prosecuting perpetrators of human rights crimes has not been due to a lack of effort by the Human Rights Unit. Rather, it is primarily the result of the lack of cooperation with, and support for, the unit from other state institutions, particularly during the early stages of the investigations in The Human Rights Unit has faced several obstacles that undermine its ability to adequately investigate and prosecute these cases, including: Throughout the time period covered by this report, the unit consisted of 15 prosecutors.
Each has had to handle approximately cases. Lack of independent investigators: These investigators are members of the national police force. Consequently, prosecutors do not feel they can rely on the police to investigate cases involving other police officers.
Lack of cooperation by security forces: Military or police officers refused to turn over firearms for ballistics tests, provide information on police officers accused of committing violations, or grant access to military installations.
Lack of judicial independence: Actions by the Honduran Supreme Court immediately after the coup created a climate in which lower court judges were discouraged from ruling against de facto authorities and in favor of coup opponents, independent of the facts of the case at hand.
The Court then disregarded constitutional appeals challenging the legality of policies by the de facto government. While Honduran law establishes the principle that lower courts should be independent of undue influence from higher courts, it also grants the Supreme Court administrative and disciplinary powers over lower court judges.
The Supreme Court exercised this authority in an arbitrary and seemingly political fashion in May when it fired four judges who publicly questioned the legality of the coup.
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