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|National Lawyers Guild Observers Question Validity of Honduran Elections
by the National Lawyers Guild
November 26, 2013
The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) delegation of 17 credentialed international observers seriously question the validity of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal's (TSE) preliminary results of Sunday's national elections in Honduras.
The NLG takes issue with the United States government's characterization of the electoral process as transparent, given the country's recent and pervasive human rights violations: "U.S. government officials should refrain from assessing the validity of the election at this early stage and instead insist on protecting the rights of Honduran civil society," NLG President Azadeh Shahshahani stated. The U.S. has been widely criticized for its early and nearly unilateral endorsement of the 2009 post-coup election, which took place during a period of brutal repression reminiscent of the violence of the 1980s.
NLG observers expressed alarm about consolidation of power over the electoral process by the National Party, which has controlled the judiciary, the military, and the Congress since the 2009 military coup. Militarization of the electoral process included soldiers patrolling each polling center and allegedly transporting ballots.
Additional irregularities were observed throughout the country, including allegations that smaller parties' credentials were sold to National Party supporters for a seat at the voting tables (a TSE official has verified this). This threatens the integrity of the election process as individuals staffing the voting tables were in charge of counting ballots at the end of the day. There were also reports of the distribution of gratuities to National Party supporters. The NLG also documented inconsistencies with voter rolls and vote tabulations.
Two opposition parties, LIBRE and PAC, have called into question the transmission of vote counts to the electoral tribunal. They claim a substantial discrepancy between the numbers reported to the TSE and those reported to their parties.
The NLG noted a strong will and enthusiasm among Hondurans to participate in the electoral process despite a pervasive climate of fear and intimidation surrounding opposition party members and observers. Over the weekend, two LIBRE party activists were murdered, while two other deaths and three injuries were reported near a voting center in the Moskitia region. In addition, international observers reported multiple incidents of intimidation by state actors in the days leading up to the elections.
The National Lawyers Guild is dedicated to the need for basic change in the structure of our political and economic system. We seek to unite the lawyers, law students, legal workers and jailhouse lawyers to function as an effective force in the service of the people, to the end that human rights shall be regarded as more sacred than property interests. See, also, Misión Sindical Internacional de Observación, Confederación Sindical de Trabajadores/as de las Américas, "Honduras: evidencias de fraude electoral" (25 November 2013).