Honduras: UN and IACHR Experts Urge Immediate Adoption of Law to Protect Internally Displaced People

January 27, 2021

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, welcomed the official submission of the Bill for the Prevention, Care, and Protection of Internally Displaced People to the National Congress of Honduras on October 14, 2020. In view of the current context in the region, which is marked by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters, the two organizations praised the initiative and urged the State to implement measures to guarantee comprehensive protection for the human rights of internally displaced persons.

The IACHR and the Special Rapporteur have observed that the predicament of internally displaced people in Honduras is extremely serious due to the extreme violence prevailing in the country, the actions of criminal organizations, and the impacts of COVID-19 and natural disasters, among other factors. In response, they believe that the prompt adoption of a new legal framework and the effective implementation of this would allow the Government to improve compliance with its international obligations in the area of forced displacement and human rights.

In this sense, the IACHR and the UN Special Rapporteur drew attention to the importance of coordinated work between civil society and government agencies like the Secretariat of Human Rights, and between the different institutions that form the Interinstitutional Commission for the Protection of People Displaced by Violence (CIPPDV). They also underlined how victims of displacement have been a driving force behind this proposed legislation. Specifically, the IACHR and the Special Rapporteur acknowledged that the CIPPDV was established as an agency to promote public policy-making and praised both this initiative and the process of articulating the agency within the comprehensive response system for internal displacement in Honduras. 

In this context, at the invitation of the Government of Honduras, the then United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Chaloka Beyani, visited the country in 2015 and presented a report to the Human Rights Council. In the report, the Special Rapporteur welcomed Honduras's commitment to drafting legislation that is in line with the Guiding Principles, with "technical assistance from his office and other national and international partners." He also stated that Honduras needed to strengthen its legal and institutional policy frameworks, and take comprehensive, coordinated action to address the root causes of displacement and protect the rights of internally displaced people.

In the same vein, as part of its visit to Honduras in 2018, the IACHR recommended that the State develop and implement public policies and a specific law to prevent internal displacement and guarantee protection, humanitarian aid, and lasting solutions for internally displaced people, in accordance with the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and the international human rights obligations that the state of Honduras is party to. Likewise, in the light of the duties enshrined in article 2 of the American Convention on Human Rights, the IACHR underscored the importance of moving toward internalizing legislative and other mechanisms to guarantee comprehensive respect for human rights. Similarly, as part of the implementation process, it called on the State to give due consideration to the standards and guidelines for public policies on the protection of internally displaced people that are contained in its publication Internal Displacement in the Northern Triangle of Central America: Public Policy Guidelines, and that wherever applicable, it incorporate the standards and recommendations enshrined in the Inter-American Principles on the Human Rights of All Migrants, Refugees, Stateless Persons, and Victims of Trafficking.

Based on these instruments and the permanent technical assistance they provide the Honduran State, the United Nations System and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have encouraged and provided committed support to the relevant institutions in the process of consolidating the legal framework for assisting the displaced population in Honduras. 

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 014/21