Press Release

IACHR Releases New Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Honduras

October 3, 2019

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Read the Report in Spanish, English version will be uploaded soon

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is releasing today the report Situation of Human Rights in Honduras. This report is based on observations made during the in loco visit to the country conducted from July 30 to August 3, 2018, along with other visits by the IACHR and its Thematic Rapporteurships, in the framework of the monitoring tasks the Commission carries out to fulfil its mandate, using various mechanisms at its disposal including hearings, precautionary measures, petitions, and cases.

In this report, the IACHR addresses the situation of human rights in Honduras, emphasizing the post-election conflict, citizen security, the administration of justice, freedom of expression, and the situation of economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights. The Commission further focuses on the situation of groups and individuals of particular concern, such as women; children and adolescents; LGBTI persons; human rights defenders and justice operators; persons deprived of their liberty; indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples and Garifuna communities; and people in a context of human mobility. In this report, the IACHR warns that, to enable the full enjoyment of human rights, Honduras must make progress to strengthen its democratic institutions, ensure an effective separation of powers, and brace the rule of law. The IACHR issues recommendations to assist the Honduran State in strengthening its efforts to protect and guarantee human rights in the country.

The IACHR welcomes measures taken by the Honduran State to address some of the situations mentioned in the report. In particular, the Commission acknowledges the creation of a specific high-level department within the Office of Human Rights to promote and implement the National Public Policy and Action Plan on Human Rights. The IACHR further welcomes the creation and implementation of the Honduran Recommendation System (SIMOREH, by its Spanish acronym), to follow up on recommendations made to the State of Honduras by various international and regional mechanisms to protect human rights. The Commission further acknowledges the enactment of the Police Career Act and efforts made to reduce the overall homicide rate and to make the Police stronger and more professional. The IACHR also welcomes the creation of the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office to Protect Human Rights Defenders, Journalists, Social Communicators, and Justice Operators, along with the commitment to continue strengthening the National Protection Mechanism.

Honduras is facing critical levels of impunity and provides inadequate, insufficient assistance to victims and their families. The lack of access to justice has led to a structural impunity that perpetuates serious human rights violations—and, in some cases, encourages repeated instances of those violations. Civil society organizations told the IACHR of the existence of what they see as “selective justice.” They argue that this system acts late and fails to respond effectively to human rights violations, and also favors the interests of actors linked to public, political, and economic power. Various challenges persist that weaken independence and impartiality, including the lack of enough safeguards to ensure the independence of judge supervision mechanisms. The Supreme Court continues to exercise excessive control of the system to both appoint and remove judges.

The Commission stresses that, to enable the full enjoyment of human rights, Honduras must improve its democratic institutions, ensure an effective separation of powers, and brace the rule of law. In this context, it is crucial for citizens to regain trust in their State institutions. The State must take determined action to ensure an adequate administration of justice and fight impunity and corruption, and to pursue electoral-system reform based on the relevant international recommendations. The State must also ensure real, effective transformation to eradicate the poverty, exclusion, and structural inequality that persist in Honduras, which affect the exercise and enjoyment of human rights, particularly for groups who face specific risks. This requires adopting effective measures, in line with the applicable international standards.

In this context, the IACHR recommends that the Honduran State take the following action. In particular, the Commission recommends these immediate measures to the State: strengthening democratic institutions; ensuring that all demonstrators’ rights to life, personal integrity, and personal liberty are protected in social protests held in the exercise of the rights to freedom of assembly and peaceful demonstration; further pursuing investigations into acts of violence, murders, and ill-treatment in the context of the protests that followed the election; and working to implement the plan to gradually remove the Armed Forces from law enforcement tasks, in line with inter-American human rights standards. The report provides other specific recommendations regarding the administration of justice, regarding violence and insecurity, and regarding specific population sectors, such as women, indigenous peoples, Afro-descendant communities, human rights defenders, children, migrants, and people in State custody.

The IACHR stresses its commitment to supporting the State of Honduras in the search for solutions to the problems that have been identified and in the implementation of the recommendations provided in this report, made in a constructive, cooperative spirit. The IACHR remains available to work with Honduras in efforts to monitor compliance with the report’s recommendations, with a view to ensuring effective enjoyment of human rights by all people under the jurisdiction of the State of Honduras.

The Commission is grateful to President Juan Orlando Hernández and his Government for the invitation to conduct this on-site visit. It also appreciates all the logistics support and assistance that made a successful visit possible. The Commission values the information provided by State authorities and their openness to engage in constructive dialogue with the IACHR. The Commission further appreciates the efforts made by victims of human rights violations and their families and by groups, civil society organizations, and indigenous and Afro-descendant authorities to meet with the delegation and present their testimony, complaints, and communications. 

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. 245/19