Republic of Honduras
Head of state and government: Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado (Replaced Porfirio Lobo Sosa in January)

Human rights violations and abuses against human rights defenders, journalists, women and girls, LGBTI people, Indigenous, Afro-descendant and campesino (peasant farmer) communities continued to be a serious concern. These violations took place in a context where impunity for human rights violations and abuses was endemic and where levels of organized and common crime were high.


President Juan Orlando Hernández was sworn in on 27 January with a four-year mandate. His commitment to the implementation of the Public Policy and National Plan of Action on Human Rights, adopted in 2013, had yet to be reflected in specific policies, measures and actions at the end of the year.

According to UN figures, Honduras had the world's highest homicide rate. Poverty and extreme poverty continued to undermine the realization of human rights for large sectors of society; more than 60% of the population were living in poverty and more than 40% in extreme poverty.

Police and security forces

In response to the high levels of crime and to the weakness, lack of credibility and widespread corruption of the National Police Force, some policing functions continued to be undertaken by the military and special groups including the Inter-institutional Security Force (Fuerza de Seguridad Interinstitucional – Fusina) created in 2014, and the TIGRES Unit (Investigation Troop and Security Special Response Group) and Public Order Military Police (Policía Militar de Orden Público), both created in 2013. Concerns were raised that these groups were not adequately trained in the respect and protection of human rights, following a number of cases of human rights violations committed during the exercise of policing functions in previous years.

Honduras also experienced a proliferation of firearms and of private security companies. It was legally permitted to possess and carry up to five firearms, and given the high levels of insecurity, many people carried firearms to protect themselves. Following a visit in 2013, the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries stated that private security companies were committing abuses with the permission or participation of the police and the military, and with impunity.

Justice system

The Attorney General's Office continued to be overwhelmed by the high levels of violence and crime in the country. In April 2013, the then Attorney General stated that the Public Prosecution Service only had the capacity to investigate 20% of the country's homicides. The Attorney General and his deputy were subsequently suspended and then removed from their posts. New officials were elected to these posts; however, human rights organizations described the election as unconstitutional, biased and lacking in transparency.

Human rights defenders

Scores of human rights defenders, including Indigenous and campesino leaders, LGBTI activists, justice officials and journalists were victims of human rights violations. They suffered killings, physical violence, kidnapping, threats, harassment and verbal attacks.

On 24 February, Mario Argeñal became the target of intimidation and harassment for demanding justice from the authorities for the death of his brother, journalist Carlos Argeñal, who was shot dead at his home in Danlí, department of El Paraíso on 7 December 2013.[1]

On 4 June, a member of the Committee of the Families of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH) was kidnapped in Tegucigalpa for two hours; she was physically attacked, almost strangled with a cable and robbed before being released.[2]

On 27 August, prominent campesino leader Margarita Murillo was shot dead in the community of El Planón, north western Honduras.[3]

In June, Congress discussed the first draft of the Law to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Defenders and Justice System Workers. In August, following national and international pressure, the draft law was finally shared with civil society. The law was yet to be approved at the end of the year, as was a mechanism for the effective protection of those at risk.

Indigenous Peoples and Afro-descendant communities

Indigenous Peoples and Garífuna (Afro-descendant) communities continued to face discrimination and inequality, including in relation to their rights to land, housing, water, health and education. Large-scale projects continued to be carried out on their lands without their consultation or their free, prior and informed consent. Indigenous and Garífuna leaders faced fabricated criminal charges and were the target of attacks and intimidation in reprisal for their work in defence of human rights. On 17 July, members of a Garífuna community in north-eastern Honduras, including human rights defender Miriam Miranda, were temporarily abducted by armed men after discovering an illegal runway used by drug traffickers on the community's territory.[4]

Land disputes

Longstanding land disputes between peasant communities and powerful landowners were one of the underlying causes of the high levels of violence faced by campesino communities, such as in the region of Bajo Aguán. In August, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expressed serious concerns about the situation in Bajo Aguán following a series of violent evictions as well as threats against and arrests of various campesino leaders, who had been beneficiaries of precautionary measures granted by the Commission in May.

Violence against women

Violence against women and girls was rife. Civil society groups reported 636 femicides in 2013, the highest number since 2005. Since 2013, the Honduran Criminal Code has recognized the crime of femicide. Between December 2013 and January 2014 there was a wave of killings of women sex workers in San Pedro Sula city, northern Honduras.[5]

Abortion continued to be banned in all circumstances. The government had yet to re-establish the legality of the emergency contraceptive pill, which had been prohibited in 2009 by decree (Acuerdo Ministerial) under the then de facto authorities.

1. Honduras: Further information – brother of killed journalist at risk (AMR 37/004/2014)

2. Honduras: Surveillance and attacks on human rights NGO (AMR 37/007/2014)

3. Campesino leader shot dead in Honduras (AMR 37/010/2014)

4. Afro-descendant community at risk in Honduras, (AMR 37/009/2014)

5. Sex workers targeted and killed in Honduras (AMR 37/001/2014)

This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.