Honduran People Deserve Free and Fair Elections
Washington, D.C. — On December 17, Honduras’ top electoral authority, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (Tribunal Supremo Electoral, TSE), declared President Juan Orlando Hernández the winner of the troubled Honduran elections by a slight margin over opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla. Following this announcement, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, published a statement questioning the findings of the TSE and recommending that Honduras hold new elections. According to the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a leading research and advocacy organization advancing human rights in the hemisphere, the international community, including the U.S. government, must support calls by the OAS for a new round of presidential elections in Honduras.
Following inconsistencies and delays in announcing a winner of the presidential vote on November 26, the OAS electoral observation mission released a preliminary report which found that the “tight margin, along with the irregularities, errors and systematic problems that have surrounded this election, does not allow the mission to be certain about the results.” The OAS mission remained in Honduras to accompany the TSE, as well as other national and international observers, to review over 6,000 vote tallies. Additionally, the OAS commissioned Georgetown University professor Irfan Nooruddin to conduct an analysis of the shift in voting patterns that Nooruddin concluded was “suspicious” and “hard to explain by pure chance.”
In the statement accompanying the release of its second preliminary report on the elections, the OAS concluded that “the electoral process was characterized by irregularities and deficiencies, with very low technical quality and lacking integrity.” The mission found that “deliberate human intrusions in the computer system, the intentional elimination of digital traces, the impossibility of knowing the number of opportunities in which the system was vulnerable, packets of votes open or missing tally sheets, the extreme statistical improbability with respect to participation levels within the same department, recently printed ballots and additional irregularities, along with the narrow difference of votes between the top two candidates, make it impossible to determine the winner with necessary certainty.”
“The vote count in Honduras has been deeply flawed, and raised more questions than it answered. Given the numerous irregularities and deficiencies that have marred the process, it is hard to have confidence in the results announced by Honduras’ top electoral authority,” said Adriana Beltrán, WOLA’s Director for Citizen Security. “The international community ought to join with OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro in calling for new elections, under careful and impartial international supervision, to provide the Honduran people with the assurance that a president has been selected through a genuinely fair process,” she said.
To date, at least 17 people have been killed in demonstrations across the country since the national elections were held, and hundreds more have been detained. “We urge the Honduran authorities to exercise restraint and uphold Hondurans’ right to peacefully assemble and respect the human rights of the citizenry,” said Beltrán.