U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Honduras
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||12 June 2007|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Honduras, 12 June 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/467be3b623.html [accessed 13 December 2013]|
Honduras (Tier 2 Watch List)
Honduras is a source and transit country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Many victims are Honduran children trafficked from rural areas to urban and tourist centers such as San Pedro Sula, the North Caribbean coast, and the Bay Islands. Child sex tourism is growing in the country. Honduran women and children also are trafficked to Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States. Most foreign victims trafficked into Honduras for commercial sexual exploitation come from neighboring countries; some victims are economic migrants en route to the United States who are victimized by traffickers.
The Government of Honduras does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Honduras is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to show evidence of increasing efforts to combat human trafficking, particularly in terms of providing increased assistance to victims. In addition, the absolute number of trafficking victims in the country is very significant. According to the government and NGOs, an estimated 10,000 victims have been trafficked in Honduras, mostly internally. Many victims are children subject to commercial sexual exploitation. Tourism in the country also is likely to grow, with an increased number of cruise ships arriving at the country's Bay Islands; reliable sources project a concomitant growth in the local sex trade, particularly child sex tourism. In light of this situation, and because Honduras' new anti-trafficking law is not yet fully enforced, the country's lack of a stronger law enforcement response to trafficking crimes is of concern. In the coming year, the government should intensify efforts to initiate prosecutions under its new anti-trafficking law to achieve more convictions and increased sentences against suspected traffickers. It should also make greater efforts to increase shelter and victim services.
The Honduran government sustained efforts to investigate human trafficking during the reporting year. Honduras prohibits trafficking for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation through Article 149 of its penal code and a separate anti-trafficking statute enacted in February 2006, but does not prohibit all forms of trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation. Honduras' anti-trafficking statutes prescribe penalties of up to 13 years' imprisonment, punishments that are commensurate with those for rape and other serious crimes and are sufficiently stringent. However, the government has not prosecuted any cases under its new anti-trafficking law to date. Last year, the government initiated 24 trafficking-related investigations and 17 prosecutions under old statutes, obtaining eight convictions; this compares with 37 investigations, 17 prosecutions, and 10 convictions in 2005. Of the eight traffickers convicted in 2006, four were sentenced to prison terms, which range from more than 7 to 27 years' imprisonment. The government conducted 27 anti-trafficking training sessions for its civilian police force last year. The government should take steps to prevent accused offenders from fleeing the country while awaiting trial. Under current law, defendants over age 60 are subject to house arrest while awaiting trial; many of these accused offenders, including American citizens, flee or bribe their way out of the country and avoid prosecution. The government also must strengthen efforts to root out any official complicity with human trafficking, which has been reported among lower-level immigration officials and in other sectors.
The Honduran government made limited progress in its efforts to assist trafficking victims during the reporting year. It operated no shelters, but referred trafficking victims to NGOs for services. Honduran consular officials in neighboring countries are trained to identify trafficking victims, and assisted Honduran victims by referring them to NGOs for assistance and coordinating their repatriation. Honduran authorities encourage victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers. Victims' rights are generally respected, and there were no reports of victims being penalized for crimes committed as a result of being trafficked. Honduras does not provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution.
The government made modest progress in prevention activities during the period. The police conducted 10 anti-trafficking training sessions that reached thousands of Hondurans in 2006. The government relied on NGOs and international organizations for the bulk of its awareness-raising campaigns. Honduras has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.