September 27, 2005 United Nations // United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women
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....
April 7, 2005 World Bank // Conflict Prevention and Reconstruction Unit
The Peace Accords of 1996 brought an end to 36 years of armed conflict in Guatemala and signaled the
beginning of a complex and challenging process of reconstruction and social reconciliation. A central plank of
the consensus expressed in the Peace Accords was the overhauling of Guatemala's public institutions, which
were seen to exacerbate the social and economic injustices that had contributed to the conflict. The Judicial
Branch was identified as one of the key state institutions in a position to create the necessary conditions to
help a divided and diverse population emerge from decades of conflict, social and economic exclusion, and
mistrust in public governance....
When mine clearance operations closed down on June 12, 2004, for the last time in Honduras, U.S. Army Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate (NVESD) prototype equipment on trial was there to help complete the work started nearly one decade ago. Progress in reaching this milestone had stalled in 2002. Lack of a solution to a troublesome combination of environmental and threat factors remained beyond the capability of normal clearance procedures at one of the last remaining mine-suspected areas left in Honduras. Conventional clearance methods had revealed evidence of a mixture of anti-personnel and anti-tank mines buried under a meter of highly mineralized sediments. The Honduran deminers and the Organization of American States (OAS) project sponsors contacted the U.S. Humanitarian Demining (HD) Research and Development (R&D;) Team for assistance in clearing these deeply buried mines, which were undetectable and unreachable by ordinary means. To meet this challenge, engineers from the HD team devised a two-step mechanical process based on a specially adapted, multi-tooled "Sifting Excavator." The development and deployment of this system from start to end covered 18 months and is a useful case study in the U.S. HD R&D; program's commitment to helping deminers and advancing the practice of demining through technology development.
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....
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....
Generally, truth commissions are bodies established to research and report on human rights abuses over a certain period of time in a particular country or in relation to a particular conflict. Truth commissions allow victims, their relatives and perpetrators to give evidence of human rights abuses, providing an official forum for their accounts. In most instances, truth commissions are also required by their mandate to provide r#ecommendations on steps to prevent a recurrence of such abuses.
In the 1980s, landmines were planted during the Nicaragua conflict on the Nicaragua/Honduras border. Although it is unclear how many were initially laid, more than 2,000 minesxe2x80x94both anti-personnel and anti-vehiclexe2x80x94 have been cleared and destroyed from the Honduras side since then. In 2001, Honduras identified four departments of contamination: Choluteca, Cortes, El Paraxc3xadso and Olancho. Honduras has never produced or exported anti-personnel landmines but received mines from Nicaragua....
December 3, 2004 Minorities at Risk Project // Center for International Development and Conflict Management // University of Maryland
The Garifuna, or Black Karibs, of Honduras originated in St. Vincent Island, where they (as slaves) mixed with native Karib Indians and adopted their culture and the Garifuna language. Toward the end the of the 18th Century, the Garifuna began emigrating to the coastline of what is now Honduras and began to settle along the coast in rural villages. Currently, the Garifuna settlements are located around the city of Trujillo and extend from Belize to Nicaragua.
The Garifuna of Honduras are an organized ethnic group who are not harshly discriminated against. Very little is reported on this group, other than the small-scale protests, in which they participate in coordination with other ethnic groups. They are an impoverished group, similar to other groups in Honduras, but do not face special discrimination or restrictions because they are part of this ethnic group....
December 3, 2004 Minorities at Risk Project // Center for International Development and Conflict Management // University of Maryland
The majority of indigenous people in Honduras are Miskito Indians, who live in the southeastern section of Honduras. Other groups include the Xicaques, Torrupan, Lenca, Chorti, and the Indians of El Paraiso, which reside in the higher elevations of western Honduras. The Paya and Sumu live in the same region as the Miskitos; some of their tribes have integrated with the Miskitos. Major Miskito, Sumu, and Paya settlements are located on the Caribbean coast from Rio Platono to Gracias a Dios. These groups have experienced the most isolation of all the indigenous groups in Honduras.
The Indians of Honduras, in particular the Miskitos, have experience#d a substantially improved living situation since the repatriation of Nicaraguan Miskitos in the late 1980s. Prior to the repatriation of the Nicaraguan Miskitos, Honduran Miskitos experienced severe suppression and military occupation. Since then, the government has improved their living conditions through social programs and improved infrastructure, which in turn has created better employment opportunities. The development of social programs, especially health care and education, have continued as key indigenous demands, though land rights remain the most critical issue. It has been estimated that indigenous groups have claimed historic rights to nearly 35,000 acres in Western Honduras, in addition to land used by the Garifunas. Much of the persecution facing Honduran indigenous peoples is directly tied to their land claims. Most of the threats against the tribes have come from wealthy Hondurans, though the government appears reluctant to investigate claims too carefully. Over the past decade, indigenous groups have become more persistent and better organized, leading to the possibility of increased conflict. While these may occasionally degrade into violence, the record of the past few years suggests that this possibility will most likely depend on the nature of the government's response to vociferous, though otherwise peaceful protests....
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.
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....
August 26, 2010 Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars // Mexico Institute // University of San Diego // Trans-border Institute
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....
February 17, 2010 Committee to Protect Journalists
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....
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....
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....