LET THIS BE THE LAST ELECTORAL CRISIS: A PATH TOWARDS REAL DEMOCRACY IN HONDURAS
Post-electoral position of the Association for a More Just Society (AJS), chapter of Transparency International (TI) in Honduras
Tegucigalpa, Honduras. After the general elections in Honduras on November 26th, 2017, the Association for a More Just Society (ASJ), chapter of Transparency International (TI) in Honduras, addresses the citizenry, state authorities, political parties, civil society organizations and social movements, and international embassies and institutions with the following points:
1. The Honduran people fulfilled their duty: We congratulate the Honduran people for their free participation in the political life of the country this past November 26th. In a process that was the most-observed in Honduran history, with 1,500 international observers and 15,000 national observers, 57.52% of the population cast their ballots, a total of 3,478,258 individuals. Despite various predictions of violence, voting was peaceful and orderly, a clear example of responsible civic participation.
2. Our electoral system has collapsed: Despite this orderly participation of the citizens in the electoral process, there is evidence of manipulation in the processing of the election’s results, which must be investigated. But not only that; there is also evidence of serious problems in the primary election process, just as there has been for the past twenty years. This electoral system was created by political leaders, who alternately defend it when they win elections, and attack it when they lose — no one has attempted meaningful or lasting improvements.
3. Corruption and concentration of power weakens the Honduran state: For years, Honduras has suffered from high levels of corruption and institutional weakness. The executive branch has dominated other powers, and the political and economic elite have taken advantage of this for their own ends. The topic of reelection has increased worry about a concentration of power and weak institutions, which generates greater lack of trust in the political system and in democracy.
4. The Honduran people are suffering: As a result of this, we are all suffering. More than 30 people have lost their life, and hundreds have been wounded, many of them innocent. Members of the police force have also suffered. The economic cost of this crisis will be very high, and protests are likely to continue. Neither is this a new reality — Hondurans suffered similar violations of their human rights and similar social and economic costs after the 2009 coup, which was another result of the political and economic elite seeking to manipulate the democratic system for their own ends. When politicians manipulate the system, it is the people who suffer.
Considering the aforementioned, AJS proposes to the country the following actions in order to overcome the post-electoral crisis:
Convene an independent national dialogue that is neither designed nor controlled by partisan political leaders and state officials, but instead moderated by an international expert named by the United Nations (UN). This dialogue leader should bring together national actors, acting as a convener and catalyst for the demands and desires of the Honduran people, with participation of leaders from all sectors of Honduran society. This dialogue should be binding, with resulting measures implemented by the relevant government and legislative authorities. For AJS, the three central topics to be discussed should be:
1) THE POLITICAL ELECTORAL SYSTEM
a. Name an Independent Investigation Commission for the 2017 electoral process that will review reports already made and, if necessary, investigate further, in order to prepare a complete report that includes relevant recommendations. Any extralegal actions should be denounced in this report, with judicial action taken against corresponding electoral crimes.
b. Transform the political electoral system, taking into account the recommendations of numerous reports about electoral processes over the past twenty years, prioritizing a list of agreed-upon actions including: changes in the current legislation that depoliticize the Superior Electoral Tribunal and other public institutions charged with citizen identification; citizen control of Electoral Tables; electoral redistricting; and the calling of a public referendum on presidential re-election, constitutional assembly, recall elections, run-off elections, and other issues important to Honduran democracy.
We propose that this process be directed by the Carter Center, alongside Hondurans of recognized integrity.
2) VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS
a. Name an Independent Commission to investigate violations of human rights committed by Honduran authorities after the election. Any extralegal or inappropriate conduct should be reported, and the corresponding judicial action taken.
b. Transform the system of protecting human rights in the country, taking into account the recommendations of numerous reports about the human rights situation in the country, prioritizing a list of agreed-upon actions so that real improvements can be seen in the short term.
We propose that this process be directed by the representative of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights in Honduras, alongside Hondurans of recognized integrity.
3) STRENGTHEN DEMOCRACY AND INSTITUTIONS
a. Determine how to govern, and improve democracy in the coming years. Actions to be considered include: forming a national unity government; modifying selection mechanisms for high-ranking state justice operators within institutions such as the judiciary, the Attorney General’s office, the Procurator General, the High Auditing Court, and other institutions; strengthening the independence of the three powers of the state; promoting transparency in the National Security Council; democratizing the bylaws of the National Congress; and carrying out other initiatives that generate checks and balances in the exercise of power.
b. Discuss other topics of national interest, in particular public policy measures in key areas such as education, health, security, justice, infrastructure, employment generation, and others.
c. Fight against corruption and impunity. Strengthen the capacities of justice operators and state comptroller entities in order to combat corruption, dismantle networks that drain the national budget, and turn back the generalized impunity that has prevailed in the country. In the same way, support the management of the Support Mission against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH) and other international institutions in the country that offer technical assistance to the state in order to combat corruption and impunity and establish a culture of transparency and accountability.
d. National reconciliation: Implement processes of national reconciliation in order to diminish polarization within Honduran society, and in this way heal the wounds of years of division, and begin the reconstruction of national unity.
We propose that this process be directed by a facilitator named by the United Nations, alongside Hondurans of recognized integrity.
In conclusion, we present our proposal with the hope that the ideas laid out within are an incentive to other groups to make their own suggestions for constructing a better Honduras. We believe that God wants to use this crisis to create a more just society in Honduras.
January 15th, 2018.