Honduran judges fired for detaining minors in adult prisons FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Fri, 14 Aug 1998 12:19:58 -0700 (PDT)

FWD From: "Ana de Lara - Casa Alianza" <casalnza@sol.racsa.co.cr>



 Two judges have been fired as a result of legal actions brought by
 Casa Alianza over the illegal detention of minors in adult prisons in
 Honduras during the past three years.

The Supreme Court Administrator upheld allegations made by the legal
office of Casa Alianza Honduras, in seven out of nine cases, stating
13 children aged between 14 and 17 had been held illegally with

The illegal detentions, of approximately 800 children, were carried
out over a period of three years from 1994 to 1997. Many of the
children were placed in the notorious Comayagua adult prison where
eight street youths were allegedly tortured in 1995 on the orders of
former prison director Aquilino Sorto.

Out of the 9 judges involved in this latest investigation two have
been fired from their positions. They are Ricardo Rodriguez who was
Judge of Letters, First Section of Danli ; and Olga Lidia Moradel who
was Justice of the peace for Guaimaca.

Both were found guilty of having contravened the public administration
by either imprisoning or failing to prevent the imprisonment of minors
with adults, as upheld by the constitution. It is now the
responsibility of the Supreme court to transfer the files to the
Public Prosecutors office in order to initiate criminal charges
against the judges.

In the case of another five judges, Jose Armando Morales Judge of
Letters for the Department in Gracias, department of Lempira ; Lorena
Lizzete Paz Criminal Justice of the Peace in Danli ; Rafael Castro
Avila the then First Criminal Judge of Letters ; Eidelman Mejia
Portillo Permanent Judge of the First Criminal Court of Letters ; and
Miriam Flores de Fiallos Fifth Judge of Criminal Letters ; it has been
recommended to the Supreme Court that they be  fined the equivalent of
five days pay for their involvement in the illegal detention of
minors. A decision by the Supreme Court is pending.

 The Inspector of Tribunals is also considering a further eleven cases
 of accusations of abuse of authority presented by Casa Alianza over
 the illegal detention of minors in adult prisons.

For many years it has been "accepted" practice in Honduras to imprison
minors in adult jails. There are a total of 24 prisons in Honduras
under the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior and Justice.

"This is a very positive step by the administration of justice in
Honduras, albeit very late and insufficient. These are purely
administrative sanctions and the law requires criminal action to be
taken. Casa Alianza presented the first accusations of abuse of
authority against judges who jailed children together with adults in
1995. Slow justice is really not justice," said Bruce Harris Regional
Director of Casa Alianza for Latin America.

Casa Alianza noted that since judges have been fired for a lack of
respect for Article 122 of the Honduran Constitution, which clearly
states that no person under the age of 18 can be jailed together with
adults, this implies that the infamous "Auto Acordado" issued by the
Supreme Court, is also unconstitutional.

The "Auto Acordado" - a legal procedure that exists supposedly just to
interpret a law rather than change it - which allowed children to be
held in the same jails as adults, was approved unanimously by the
Honduran Supreme Court on January 16th, 1995. Due to tremendous
international pressure, the Supreme Court finally revoked the
unconstitutional ruling on January 1st, 1996.

 "Now we have confirmed the unconstitutionality of the Auto Acordado,
 which leaves wide open the responsibility for the Public Prosecutor
 to formally charge the nine Supreme Court Magistrates who approved
 the measure with abuse of authority," added Harris.

Casa Alianza's Legal Aid Office will now present civil claims for
damages against the State of Honduras for the illegal detention of the
minors in the cases where the two judges were fired.

For more information please contact Casa Alianza on + 506 253 5439 or
Bruce Harris at <bruce@casa-alianza.org> Visit our Web Site at
Casa Alianza / Covenant House Latin America
Regional Office for Latin America
San Jose, Costa Rica

e-mail: analara@casa-alianza.org

Phone: +(506) 253-5439
Fax:   +(506) 224-5689

Mailing Address:
SJO 1039 / PO Box 025216
Miami FL, 33102-5216 USA

Home Page <http://www.casa-alianza.org>
"If the 100 millions street children throughout the
world were all in the same place, they would have
their own country, a seat at the United Nations and
loans from the World Bank..."
Streetkid-L Resource Page:  http://www.jbu.edu/business/sk.html
Listowner: jwalenci@acc.jbu.edu, John Brown University


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