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Abstract: Crisis Watch summarises briefly developments during the previous month in some 70 situations of current or potential conflict, listed alphabetically by region, providing references and links to more detailed information sources (all references mentioned are hyperlinked in the electronic version of this bulletin); assesses whether the overall situation in each case has, during the previous month, significantly deteriorated, significantly improved, or on balance remained more or less unchanged; alerts readers to situations where, in the coming month, there is a particular risk of new or significantly escalated conflict, or a particular conflict resolution opportunity (noting that in some instances there may in fact be both); and summarises Crisis Group’s reports and briefing papers that have been published in the last month.
Amid mounting tensions between North and South Sudan over the disputed border area of Abyei, clashes broke out between the two sides at the beginning of the month. Northern Sudanese forces invaded Abyei on 20 May and asserted control in breach of existing peace agreements. Tens of thousands are reported to have fled south. The attacks threaten renewed conflict and weaken confidence between North and South as critical post-referendum arrangements remain unresolved.
Tensions also increased over military control and the presence of armed forces in the transitional areas of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, and CrisisWatch identifies a conflict risk alert for North Sudan for the coming month.
Violence escalated further in Yemen, where military forces loyal to President Saleh battled on several fronts, renewing fears that the continued political stalemate could erupt into civil war.
President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria continued to use troops and tanks to violently suppress the ongoing revolt, with hundreds of protesters feared killed, thousands detained, and widespread reports of torture.
In Pakistan, the U.S. killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad at the beginning of the month again raised questions about the military's possible involvement with jihadist groups.
Local elections in Albania on 8 May proved even more troubled than anticipated as the race for the Tirana mayor's seat ended deep within the margin of error.
In Guatemala, the Mexican Los Zetas cartel killed and decapitated 27 farm workers in the northern Petén department.
In Serbia, war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb military leader accused of commanding the Srebrenica massacre and the siege of Sarajevo during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, was arrested after 16 years on the run. He was extradited to The Hague, where he will stand trial for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
Abstract: The military coup d’etat that ousted President Manuel Zelaya on June 28, 2009—and the attacks on journalists, human rights defenders, and political activists in the coup’s aftermath—represent the most serious setbacks for human rights and the rule of law in Honduras since the height of political violence in the 1980s. After the coup, security forces committed serious human rights violations, killing some protesters, repeatedly using excessive force against demonstrators, and arbitrarily detaining thousands of coup opponents. The de facto government installed after the coup also adopted executive decrees that imposed unreasonable and illegitimate restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and assembly. Since the inauguration of President Porfirio Lobo in January 2010, there have been new acts of violence and intimidation against journalists, human rights defenders, and political activists. This report documents 47 such cases, including 18 killings. While some of these attacks may be the result of common crime, available evidence—including explicit threats— suggest that many were politically motivated. This report documents the state's failure to ensure accountability for these abuses.
Abstract: While Mexico is having some limited success dealing with its spiraling conflict, vulnerable
States in Central America are struggling to keep the organized criminal groups at bay, even while
they face other challenges such as widespread gang activity. Problems are particularly acute in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, three States with vast
coastlines, large ungoverned spaces and the greatest proximity to Mexico. However, geography
is only part of the problem. Armed conflicts in Guatemala, El Salvador and parts of Honduras
between 1960 and the mid-1990s laid the foundations for the weapons trafficking, money
laundering and contraband traffic that we are witnessing today. This chapter is about drug trafficking organizations (DTO) operating in Central America. It is
broken down by theme rather than by country. It provides a brief history of DTO activity in the
region; descriptions of who operates the DTOs, both locally and internationally, and their modus
operandi; the use of street gangs in DTO activities; DTO penetration in government and security
forces; local, regional and international efforts and challenges as they try and combat DTOs. The
chapter is centered on the three countries where the problem of DTOs appears to be the most
acute: Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
Abstract: At least 71 journalists were killed across the globe in 2009, the Committee to Protect Journalists announced Tuesday, the largest annual toll in the 30 years the group has been keeping track.
Twenty-nine of those deaths came in a single, politically motivated massacre of reporters and others in the Philippines last November, the worst known episode for journalists, the committee said.
But there were other worrisome trends. The two nations with the highest number of journalists incarcerated — China had 24 journalists imprisoned at the end of 2009 and Iran had 23 — were particularly harsh in taking aim at bloggers and others using the Internet. The number jailed in Iran has since jumped to 47, the committee said. Of the 71 confirmed deaths, 51 were murders, the committee said. The report noted that 24 additional deaths of journalists remained under investigation to determine if they were related to the journalists’ work. Previously, the highest number of journalists killed in a single year was 67, in 2007, when violence in Iraq was raging.
Abstract: Since the June 28, 2009 coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya from office, the de facto regime has tried to stanch the flow of incriminating information coming from Honduras. But human rights organizations and grassroots delegations keep working to focus the Obama administration's gaze on the dire situation, particularly for Honduran women. The Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH) began investigating abuses immediately after the coup, searching hospitals and jails. Their July 15 report documents 1155 human rights violations during the first two weeks of the coup. These include 1046 illegal detentions, 59 beatings, 27 assaults on reporters and the independent press, and four executions. Three of those killed are named: Isis Obed Murillo Mencías (19-years-old), Gabriel Fino Noriega (radio-journalist), and Caso Ramon Garcia.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued their first and most comprehensive report on the Honduran crisis on August 21. Consistent with COFADEH's findings, the IACHR charged the coup government with "disproportionate use of public force, arbitrary detentions, and the control of information aimed at limiting political participation by a sector of the citizenry."
A scant six weeks after that IACHR report, at the end of September, the National Front Against the Coup in Honduras (FNR) estimated more than 100 coup fatalities — an appalling escalation.
But if the violence appalls, it is not unprecedented. During the 1980s, the Battalion 3-16 death squad was responsible for forced disappearances, detentions, and torture in Honduras. COFADEH warns that members of the Battalion are returning to positions of power and influence. A particularly notorious Battalion leader, Captain Billy Joya Améndola, is now special security adviser to "Interim President" Roberto Micheletti.
Abstract: Amnesty International published a series of exclusive photos and testimonies on Wednesday revealing serious ill-treatment by police and military of peaceful protesters in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa. The organization warned that beatings and mass arrests are being used as a way of punishing people for voicing their opposition to the military-backed coup d’etat in June.
As human rights violations increase, the need for the international community to seek a solution to the political crisis becomes ever more urgent.
The photos and testimonies were gathered by an Amnesty International delegation who interviewed many of the 75 people who were detained at the Jefatura Metropolitana Nº3 police station in Tegucigalpa after the police, supported by the military, broke up a peaceful demonstration on 30 July.
Most detainees had injuries as a consequence of police beatings with batons and having stones and other objects thrown at them. When they were arrested, no one was told where they were being taken, the reasons for their detention or the charges against them. All detainees were released a few hours later.
“Mass arbitrary arrests and ill treatment of protesters are a serious and growing concern in Honduras today,” said Esther Major, Central America researcher at Amnesty International.
“Detention and ill treatment of protestors are being employed as forms of punishment for those openly opposing the de facto government, and also as a deterrent for those contemplating taking to the streets to peacefully show their discontent with the political turmoil the country is experiencing,” said Esther Major.
Amongst those held in detention on 30 July were 10 students. They had all been beaten with batons on the back, arms and backs of the legs by police. One of them said: “The police were throwing stones; they cornered us, threw us on the floor, on our stomachs and beat us. They took our cameras from us, beat us if we lifted our heads and even when we were getting into the police wagons.”
Several of those interviewed told Amnesty International that during the demonstration, police officers wore no visible identification. They said some police officers had told them, “do not look at us, sons of bitches,” and that others wore bandannas to hide their faces.
Abstract: While the Obama administration was careful to distance itself from the recent coup in Honduras — condemning the expulsion of President Manuel Zelaya to Costa Rica, revoking Honduran officials' visas, and shutting off aid — that doesn't mean influential Americans aren't involved, and that both sides of the aisle don't have some explaining to do.
The story most U.S. readers are getting about the coup is that Zelaya — an ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez — was deposed because he tried to change the constitution to keep himself in power.
That story is a massive distortion of the facts. All Zelaya was trying to do is to put a non-binding referendum on the ballot calling for a constitutional convention, a move that trade unions, indigenous groups, and social activist organizations had long been lobbying for. The current constitution was written by the Honduran military in 1982, and the one-term limit allows the brass-hats to dominate the politics of the country. Since the convention would have been held in November, the same month as the upcoming presidential elections, there was no way Zelaya could have remained in office in any case. The most he could have done was to run four years from now.
And while Zelaya is indeed friendly with Chavez, he is at best a liberal reformer whose major accomplishment was raising the minimum wage. "What Zelaya has done has been little reforms," Rafael Alegria, a leader of Via Campesina, told the Mexican daily La Jornada. "He isn't a socialist or a revolutionary, but these reforms, which didn't harm the oligarchy at all, have been enough for them to attack him furiously."
One of those "little reforms" was aimed at ensuring public control of the Honduran telecommunications industry, which may well have been the trip-wire that triggered the coup.
Abstract: President Manuel Zelaya and his opponents now in charge in Honduras remain in a standoff. Inside the country, supporters of both sides are waging mass protests, while concerns continue regarding media censorship. This crisis provides an opportunity to look more closely at the Honduran political system and how it "broke." Even more importantly, it's a chance to consider what life is like for the average Honduran and how the United States impacts that small Central American country.
It's somewhat ironic that Zelaya now bills himself as a "man of the people." It's even odder that he's accused of being a "leftist." In fact, he's the son of a wealthy rancher once accused of killing leftist leaders, whose bodies were found hidden on the family ranch. Before running for president, Zelaya's priorities in politics were mainly decentralizing government and protecting forestry against foreign concessions. If history tells us anything, his turn toward a more populist brand of politics has more to do with the energy of reform movements within Honduras itself, as well as throughout the rest of Latin America, than any personal awakening.
From the shift to civilian rule in 1982 until Zelaya's ouster in June, the Honduran government appeared to be relatively stable. The country's two major political parties, the moderate Liberal Party (of which Zelaya is a member) and the more conservative National Party, have virtually controlled political affairs. Traditionally, both represented social and economic elites who settled on trading off the presidency. The pact between the two parties included a mutual stake in the practice of favoritism, government secrecy, and the protection of military officers accused of human rights abuses.
Abstract: On the morning of June 28, masked soldiers burst into the home of Honduran President Manuel "Mel" Zelaya and forced the elected head of state onto a plane out of the country. Later that day, the Honduran congress overwhelmingly elected its speaker Roberto Michiletti, a member of Zelaya's own Liberal Party, as the country's new president.
Troops swarmed the streets in the capital, Tegucigalpa, and media outlets considered sympathetic to Zelaya were shut down. Some of Zelaya's cabinet members and leaders of popular organizations friendly to Zelaya are in hiding, and there are reports that arrest warrants have been issued for them. Police and military units have broken up demonstrations in support of Zelaya, and on at least one occasion tear-gassed demonstrators. There have also been demonstrations in support of the new government.
The international reaction was swift and surprisingly united. President Barack Obama made a statement within hours of the coup in support of the rule of law. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a strong statement the next day, opposing the coup and calling for Zelaya's return to office. The governments of Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Ecuador, which form the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), an economic and trade group Zelaya had joined in the last year, strongly condemned the coup, as did every other government in Latin America. The United Nations General Assembly called on member nations not to recognize any government other than that of Zelaya. And on the Tuesday after the coup, the Organization of American States (OAS) threatened to suspend Honduras' membership in the body if Zelaya is not restored in three days time.
Abstract: This report is submitted in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 6/32 and covers the period May to December 2008. It first addresses three thematic issues: the status of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (Guiding Principles) 10 years after their submission to the Commission on Human Rights; the protection of persons displaced by natural disaster; and the inclusion of the issue of internal displacement and the people it affects in peace processes. The second part of this report addresses the country mission to Georgia of the Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced persons, his working visits to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Honduras, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste, and other activities supporting constructive dialogue with Governments and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations involved in the response to internal displacement.
Abstract: Because of their growing membership and globalization, urban youth gangs have become a public security threat that must be addressed. Gangs once provided outlets for marginalized youths to socialize, control territory, and release aggression. More recently, some have evolved into informally affiliated international criminal networks. Two predominantly Hispanic gangs -- Calle 18 and Mara Salvatrucha -- began to proliferate in Los Angeles during the 1960s and now have fraternal links to some 130,000 to 300,000 members in Mexico and Central America and have expanded across the United States to major cities and rural communities on the Eastern Seaboard. Gang activities range from defending neighborhood turf to armed robbery, extortion, alien smuggling, and arms and drug trafficking. Gangs provide a handy supply of young collaborators for organized crime. Their transnational nature is facilitated by fluid migration across porous national borders, incarceration with experienced criminals in U.S. prisons, and the weak rule of law in Mexico and Central America. Although no hard evidence links them with terrorist networks, transnational gangs are a potential menace to the stability of North American neighbors of the United States.
Abstract: The 110th Congress has maintained a keen interest in the effects of crime and
gang violence in Central America and its spillover effects on the United States. Since
February 2005, more than 2,000 alleged members of the violent Mara Salvatrucha
(MS-13) gang have been arrested in cities across the United States. These arrests
have raised concerns about the transnational activities of Central American gangs,
and governments throughout the region are struggling to find the right combination
of suppressive and preventive policies to deal with them. Some analysts assert that
increasing U.S. deportations of individuals with criminal records to Central American
countries may be contributing to the gang problem.
Several U.S. agencies have been actively engaged on both the law enforcement
and preventive side of dealing with Central American gangs. An inter-agency
committee worked together to develop a U.S. Strategy to Combat Criminal Gangs
from Central America and Mexico, which was announced at a July 2007 U.S.-Central
American Integration System (SICA) summit on security issues. The strategy, which
is now being implemented, states that the U.S. government will pursue coordinated
anti-gang activities through five broad areas: diplomacy, repatriation, law
enforcement, capacity enhancement, and prevention.
During the first session of the 110th Congress, several Members introduced
immigration legislation – H.R. 1645 (Gutierrez), S. 330 (Isakson), and S. 1348
(Reid) – that included provisions to increase cooperation among the United States,
Mexico, and Central America in the tracking of gang activity and in the handling of
deported gang members. However, none of those bills were enacted. On October 2,
2007, the House passed H.Res. 564 (Engel) supporting expanded cooperation
between the United States and Central America to combat crime and violence. The
Consolidation Appropriations Act, FY2008 (H.R. 2764/P.L. 110-161), included the
provision of $8 million to the State Department to combat criminal youth gangs, $3
million more than the Administration’s request.
In June 2008, Congress appropriated $60 million for Central America in the
FY2008 Supplemental Appropriations Act, H.R. 2642 (P.L. 110-252). Those funds
will serve as initial funding for the Mérida Initiative, a new anticrime and counterdug
aid package for Mexico and Central America. With that funding, the State
Department reportedly plans to use roughly $13 million to support direct anti-gang
efforts, with another $4 million included for justice sector reform, $8.6 million for
police reform, and $18 million for related development programs.
This report describes the gang problem in Central America, discusses country
and regional approaches to deal with the gangs, and analyzes U.S. policy with respect
to gangs in Central America. It will be updated periodically. For more information
on the Mérida Initiative, see CRS Report RS22837, Merida Initiative: U.S. Anticrime
and Counterdrug Assistance for Mexico and Central America. For information on
the activities of Central American gangs in the United States, see CRS Report
RL34233, The MS-13 and 18th Street Gangs: Emerging Transnational Gang Threats.
Abstract: Although all countries, in theory report their authorized transfers - and
such information may even be available in certain public databases - the
task of providing an overview of SALW transfers, their parts and
munitions, is an arduous one. Nonetheless, despite the difficulties, we
have some extremely positive initiatives on a global scale, such as for
example, the Small Arms Survey, recognized as an important source of
information, especially on SALW production and transfers, as well as the
Norwegian Initiative on Small Arms Transfers (NISAT) which has a
database containing transfer records going back to 1962.Despite these
important initiatives, themselves when researchers, activists and policy
makers try to understand a regional market, such as Latin America and
the Caribbean, they encounter a dearth of information. With the intent of addressing this shortcoming, En La Mira has, since 2007, dedicated an
issue to transfers of SALWs, parts and ammunition in this region. Further, according to statistics from the United Nations Commodity Trade
Statistics Database (UN-Comtrade or Comtrade), USD 6.7 billion were
exported between 2004 and 2006, while USD 6.5 billion were imported.
Despite the fact that Latin America and the Caribbean represent 6% and
3%, respectively, of total transfers worldwide during this period, 42% of
firearms related homicide is committed in the region. This discrepancy
between the international transfer volume share and the levels of armsrelated
violence in Latin America and the Caribbean calls attention to
itself, above all because of the tragic and startling number of homicides.
Obviously, far from wishing to increase arms transfers in order to be more
in sync with homicide rates, we decided, a year ago, to study this issue
and periodically monitor its development based on our interest in
understanding the primary legal entry and exit routes of firearms and
ammunition. The result is a report - based on customs information as
stated by Latin American and Caribbean countries and their respective
partners - whose objective is to describe the movement of the SALW
imports and exports, as well as ammunition and parts, during the present
decade. Based on this data, we answer the following questions: who
exported and who imported? From whom? What? And when?
It is worth restating that the intent of this report is not to explain the
cause of arms imports and exports by Latin American countries. Beyond
merely providing information, we do indeed wish to awaken, by means of
the information presented here, the curiosity of other researches, activists
and government staff members such that they may continue to perform research in their countries regarding the transparency of this information,
on who is using the transferred SALW, and how.
The data used for this report came from the NISAT database, which
contains more than 800,000 entries for SALW transfers worldwide since
1962. The NISAT database gets its information from different sources,
COMTRADE among them. In this study we decided to restrict ourselves
to data from this latter source because, in theory, all countries report
transfers to the UN. This data is declared in accordance with the
Harmonized System (SH) merchandise classification system. The HS has
existed since 1988and, in 2007, was revised for the fourth time; previous
revisions were in 1992, 1996 and in 2002. Regarding the period analyzed,
we are looking at data up until 2006, since at the time the study closed
this was the most recent year available on NISAT.
Abstract: U.S. policymakers have made securing and maintaining foreign contributions
to the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq a major priority since the preparation
period for the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003. This report
highlights and discusses important changes in financial and personnel contributions
from foreign governments to Iraq since 2003.
To date, foreign donors have pledged an estimated $16.4 billion in grants and
loans for Iraq reconstruction, with most major pledges originating at a major donors'
conference in Madrid, Spain, in October 2003. However, only a small part of the
pledges have been committed or disbursed to the World Bank and United Nations
Development Group Trust Funds for Iraq. The largest non-U.S. pledges of grants
have come from Japan, the European Commission, the United Kingdom, Canada,
South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates. The World Bank, the International
Monetary Fund, Japan, and Saudi Arabia have pledged the most loans and export
Currently, 33 countries including the United States have some level of troops
on the ground in Iraq or supporting Iraq operations from nearby locations. Those
forces are working under the rubric of one of several organizations — the
Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I), the NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I); or
the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). Currently, the largest
troop contributors, in addition to the United States, are the United Kingdom, Georgia,
Australia, South Korea, and Poland. Some of these key contributors have announced
their intention to reduce or withdraw their forces from Iraq during 2008. The total
number of non-U.S. coalition troop contributions has declined since the early
stabilization efforts, as other countries have withdrawn their contingents or
substantially reduced their size.
Abstract: In Central America there are currently three countries with high levels of violence and
two with low levels. Honduras, along with El Salvador and Guatemala, belongs to the
countries with high levels of violence, while Nicaragua and Costa Rica have relatively low
levels of violence in the context of Central America. After El Salvador, Honduras is the
country with the highest incidence of violence not only in Central America, but in Latin
America as a whole. Honduras has a homicide rate which is five times higher than the
world average. This high rate refers to a violence which is virtually exclusively violent
crime, and which has nothing whatsoever to do with civil wars, revolutions or other
armed political conflicts.
The report begins by discussing empirical findings on violence, before going on to
look for the causes of the present violence. It takes as its hypothesis, the fact that a particularly
significant cause of the high levels of violence is a state security sector which is
failing to function as it should, but which nonetheless does not reflect any fundamental
failure of the state as a whole. A homeostatic system which was traditionally characteristic
of Honduras operated in the past in such as way as essentially to exclude violence. Nowadays,
however, the system integrates violence as one of its sub-systems. Nonetheless the failure of the security sector in Honduras does not equate to state failure,
because the failing security sector is compensated by other, particularly well functioning
state (party system, presidency and parliament) and informal structures (clientelism,
nepotism, personalism or corruption). Not only the weak security sector, but also nonstate
violence itself is closely integrated into the system. Political stability exists not in
spite of but because of high rates of violence, at least under the precondition that the violence
remains criminal and not political in nature. In this way the homeostatic system,
from now on with the inclusion of violence, has a new configuration. As a result, violence
simultaneously takes the place of capacity for reform, conflict mediation and inclusion.
Abstract: The world is coming to recognise the interdependence of security and development issues. Moral imperatives
aside, poverty is no longer acceptable for reasons of simple common safety. Technology and globalisation
have made it possible for even the most marginalized groups to pose a threat to the most powerful.
Areas allowed to descend into social disarray generate, and provide refuge for, organised criminals and political
militants. Global security requires global development.
The problem is that the opposite is also true: development requires security. Investors do not put their
money in places where the rule of law does not prevail. Skilled labour does not reside in countries where
personal safety is at risk. Crime and corruption are derailing attempts to address the global polarisation of
wealth, as people choose not to invest their lives or their money where they are insecure. For the poor that
remain, the threat of crime retards their efforts to better themselves, as they structure their activities around
avoiding victimisation. Trust among countrymen is lost, and with it goes social cohesion. Cynicism about
the ability to succeed within the law breeds further insecurity, and whole regions can find themselves locked
into a downward spiral of victimisation and social disinvestment.
Further, crime and corruption undermine democracy itself. The primary responsibility of the state is to
ensure citizen security, and when it fails to establish basic internal order, it loses the confidence of the
people. When civil servants and elected officials come to be viewed as part of the crime problem, citizens
effectively disown their government. They become subjects rather than citizens. Whatever role the state
might play in development is seriously challenged by the loss of popular support.
It is therefore imperative that crime be addressed as a key development issue. Until threats to life and property
can be brought to acceptable levels, developing countries with serious crime problems will struggle to
gain the public confidence needed for forward progress. A foundational level of order must be established
before development objectives can be realised.
Due to its geographic location between the world's cocaine suppliers and its main consumers, Central
America has been exposed to exogenous organised crime pressures that would be challenging for countries
many times as large. Unfortunately, the region is particularly vulnerable to incursion by organised crime
due to a range of domestic factors, and this report opens by considering several of these, including social
and economic pressures, lack of law enforcement capacity, and a history of conflict or authoritarian rule. It
then looks at the nature of organised crime and violence in the region in some detail. Finally#, it considers
how the crime problem is undermining development efforts.
Abstract: In March 2003, a U.S.-led multinational force began operations in Iraq. At that time, 48 nations, identified as a "coalition of the willing," offered political, military, and financial support for U.S. efforts in Iraq, with 38 nations other than the United States providing troops. In addition, international donors met in Madrid in October 2003 to pledge funding for the reconstru#ction of Iraq's infrastructure, which had deteriorated after multiple wars and decades of neglect under the previous regime.
This testimony discusses (1) the troop commitments other countries have made to operations in Iraq, (2) the funding the United States has provided to support other countries' participation in the multinational force, and (3) the financial support international donors have provided to Iraq reconstruction efforts.
Abstract: Despite a recent all-out offensive on violent crime that involved the armed forces and targeted mainly slum neighbourhoods, the number of murders continues to rise in Honduras, which along with neighbouring El Salvador and Guatemala is among the countries in the world with the highest homicide rates per 100,000 population.
Abstract: Rising crime is threatening democratic development and slowing economic growth across Central America and Mexico. Gang activity has transcended the borders of Central America, Mexico, and the United States and evolved into a transnational concern that demands a coordinated, multi-national response to effectively combat increasingly sophisticated criminal gang networks. Recognizing that gang activity is a complex, multi-faceted and transnational phenomenon, the USAID Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean Office of Regional Sustainable Development (LAC/RSD) initiated the Central America and Mexico Gang Assessment in 2005 to study the phenomenon and propose solutions in five countriesxe2x80x94El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua.
Abstract: Honduras is considered one of the most violent countries in Latin America. In 1999, the homicide rate reached 154 per 100,000 inhabitants, which was attributed largely to juvenile gangs, organized crime, drug trafficking, and social violence. More recent levels are lowerxe2x80x9446 homicides per 100,000 inhabitantsxe2x80x94but are still higher than other countries in the region. A high homicide rate is coupled with a high rate of physical violence and crimes against property are prevalent. Most of the crime that does take place occurs in the major urban centers of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. There are claims that groups composed of both public and private sector individuals have committed unsanctioned acts of violence against youth and gang members. During the last five years extra-judicial killings of street children have raised concerns about social cleansing and the possible involvement of police in# some of these murders. Marta Sabellxc3xb3n from Casa Alianza, an international NGO involved with youth issues, reported that 2,825 youths had been killed in the last five years, and about 35 youths are killed each month. In at least 55 percent of the cases, the assassins have not been identified.
Abstract: Honduras is a constitutional democracy, with a president and a unicameral congress elected by separate ballot for 4-year terms. The multiparty political system is dominated by two traditional parties, the Nationalists and the Liberals. In 2001, voters elected Ricardo Maduro of the Nationalist Party president in elections that domestic and international observers judged to be generally free and fair. The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary; however, the judiciary is poorly staffed and equipped, often ineffective, and subject to corruption and political influence.
The Honduran Armed Forces (HOAF) include the army, the air force, and the navy. The Ministry of Public Security oversees police operations, and police are responsible for all internal public security issues. The military are authorized to support law enforcement activities with police upon presidential directive. During the year, nearly half of all military personnel were assigned for most of the time to joint patrols with police to prevent and combat high levels of criminal and gang activity. The civilian authorities maintained effective control of the security forces. Members of the security forces, particularly the police, committed human rights abuses.
Abstract: One of the poorest countries in Latin America, Honduras is losing up to $18 million a year in lost stumpage fees and other forestbased
revenue. Yet this is only the tip of the iceberg of a massive, nationwide, resource rip-off by major timber and wood product
producers and their high level political backers. An estimated 80% of mahogany and up to 50% of pine xe2x80x94 Honduras' main timber
export xe2x80x94 is produced in violation of government regulations.
EIA's investigations, documented in this report, have unveiled a far-reaching web of corruption and illegalities involving politicians,
the State Forestry Administration, timber companies, sawmills, transporters, loggers, mayors, police and other officials. Illegal timber
trade is also used to smuggle narcotics and to launder drug money. Additionally, tax evasion is widespread by companies that fail to
declare the total volume or value of their wood exports to evade paying corporate taxes.
The underground timber trade is too powerful and entrenched, corruption and nepotism too rife to be challenged easily, even if the
political will existed within the Honduran government. Yet a small group of environmentalists, journalists, enforcement officials and
reform-minded citizens are mounting a growing effort to focus attention on the problem and trigger action. The band of reformers
have meager resources, and they risk their lives daily to try to stop the illegal timber trade.
Abstract: Like many other conflicts in Salvadoran history, the 1969 war with Honduras, sometimes referred to as the Football War, was rooted in economic disparity. El Salvador is a small country with a large and rapidly growing population and a severely limited amount of available land. Honduras is a larger country with a smaller population and a less-developed economy. By 1969 some 300,000 Salvadorans had drifted over the border and taken up residence in more sparsely populated Honduras. The vast majority of these Salvadorans were squatters, technically illegal immigrants whose sole claim to the land they worked was their physical presence on it. For Hondurans, the land itself was not so much the issue. What rankled them was the image of being pushed and potentially enveloped by the Salvadorans. Throughout the 1960s, the mechanisms of the Central American Common Market worked to the advantage of the more developed economies of the region, particularly those of Guatemala and El Salvador. The growth of Salvadoran-owned businesses in Honduras-- shoe stores were the most visible of these enterprises-- underscored for Hondurans the relative economic disparity between the two countries. The issue of the Salvadoran squatters, despite its lack of real economic significance, became a nationalistic sore point for Honduras, a question of adding territorial insult to perceived economic injury.
Abstract: It is important to appoint and consider that Honduras has a written law system and
though, like in many countries of the region through the last years, it has been
immerse in a reform process of the justice sector this task hasnxc2x92t been completed.
This reform and modernizing process has implied that the country had to
promulgate new laws according to international human rights treaties like the
Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, the
Child Covenant or the Inter-American Covenant for the Prevention, Sanction and
Elimination of Violence against Women.
Within this context, an important and useful opportunity emerged to impulse, at
national level, specific legislation to promote womenxc2x92s human rights. The xc2x93Law
against Domestic Violencexc2x94 was approved in Honduras in 1997 and effective a
year after, 1998.