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Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, on the conclusion of the preliminary examination into the situation in Honduras

Following a thorough factual and legal analysis of the information available, I have determined that, at this stage, the legal requirements of the Rome Statute for seeking authorisation from the Judges of the International Criminal Court ("ICC" or the "Court") to open an investigation into the situation in Honduras have not been satisfied.

My Office initiated a preliminary examination into the situation in Honduras on 18 November 2010 in order to assess whether reasonable basis exist to open an investigation with respect to alleged crimes committed following the coup d'état of 28 June 2009. As part of this legal assessment, my Office carefully examined whether the alleged crimes could amount to crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute of the ICC.

Based on the information available, human rights violations were committed on 28 June 2009 and in its aftermath, and these were directly attributable to the authorities which had seized power in the coup.  However, applying the reasonable basis standard as set by the Rome Statute, I concluded in November 2013 that such violations perpetrated between 28 June 2009 and 27 January 2010 do not constitute crimes against humanity within the meaning of the Statute, and thus do not fall within the scope of the crimes the ICC has the mandate to investigate.

Nonetheless, in light of subsequent allegations about crimes committed after 27 January 2010 and in the Bajo Aguán region, my Office continued its preliminary examination to assess whether these alleged crimes could impact my previous conclusion, or if they could independently constitute crimes against humanity.

After carefully weighing the information available against the legal requirements of the Rome Statute, I have concluded that there is no reasonable basis for my Office to proceed with an investigation. Therefore, I have decided to close the preliminary examination of the situation in Honduras. My Office has issued a detailed report presenting and explaining its findings.

I want to be clear on the following point. By no means does this decision minimise the crimes committed in Honduras or their impact on the victims. It should be recalled, however, that the Rome Statute's definition of crimes against humanity imposes strict legal requirements that distinguish this category of crimes from a context of general, chronic and structural violence. 

My Office based its assessment into the situation in Honduras on open and other reliable sources of information, which we subjected to our strict practice of independent, impartial and thorough analysis. Should new facts or information become available in the future warranting the reconsideration of the Office's conclusions, I will not hesitate to reopen the preliminary examination of the situation in Honduras.


Honduras ratified the Rome Statute on 1 July 2002. The Court has therefore jurisdiction over Rome Statute crimes committed in the territory or by nationals of Honduras after 1 September 2002.

On 18 November 2010, the then Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo announced that the Office of the Prosecutor would be conducting a preliminary examination into the situation in Honduras after receiving information on crimes allegedly committed following the coup d'état of 28 June 2009.

On the day of the coup, former President of Honduras, Mr José Manuel Zelaya Rosales was arrested by members of the armed forces and forcibly flown to Costa Rica. The de facto government implemented a series of measures restricting freedom of movement, assembly and expression, and established a "crisis room" for the purpose of coordinating police and military operations to enforce them.

Demonstrations against the coup d'état organised by thousands of José Manuel Zelaya's supporters throughout the country were met with resistance and violence by state security forces, resulting in large-scale human rights violations. Ousted President Zelaya's attempts to return to Honduras and his temporary refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa triggered further demonstrations which were severely and, in some instances, violently repressed by security forces.

In the years following the 2009 coup, violence in Honduras continued to escalate, owing partly to the political turmoil triggered by the coup, but also as a result of the expansion of drug trafficking and criminal organisations, the proliferation of weapons, and the involvement of the armed forces in matters of citizen security. In the Bajo Aguán region, violence related to long-standing land struggles between the local population and private corporations has been further exacerbated by the increased presence of transnational criminal organisations, African palm plantation robbers and looters, and rivalries between peasant groups. In this context, the lack of sufficient investigations and prosecutions by national authorities aggravated the cycle of criminality and impunity in Honduras.

The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC conducts independent and impartial preliminary examinations, investigations and prosecution of the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Office of the Prosecutor has opened investigations in: Uganda; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, Sudan; Central African Republic; Kenya; Libya; Côte d'Ivoire and Mali. The Office is also conducting preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Guinea, Iraq/UK, Nigeria, Ukraine and Palestine.

Decision of the Office of the Prosecutor to close the preliminary examination into the situation in Honduras: Honduras - Article 5 Report.

For further information on the relevant Rome Statute principles, factors and procedures applied by the Office of the Prosecutor in the conduct of its preliminary examination activities, see its Policy Paper on Preliminary Examinations.

Questions & Answers about the decision: available in English and Spanish

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Source : Office of the Prosecutor