Honduras (Tier 2)
Honduras is a source and transit country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of 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. NGOs and observers estimate that large numbers of minors are being commercially exploited in Honduras and in many other countries throughout the region. Observers have documented more than 1,000 minors (mostly Hondurans) that were victims of trafficking for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation in 2003. Honduran women and children are trafficked to the United States, Canada, Guatemala, and most other countries in Central America. Foreign victims trafficked into Honduras for commercial sexual exploitation come from Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and El Salvador. Honduras is also a transit country for illegal migration originating outside the region, including China, and there are unconfirmed reports that some are forced into debt bondage to pay off their smuggling fees.
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. The government undertook more serious and sustained efforts to prosecute traffickers and rescue minors from commercial exploitation over the last year. Draft amendments to the criminal code that would increase penalties for convicted traffickers are currently pending in the Honduran Congress. Honduras needs to work more vigorously to prevent Honduran women and girls, many of whom are trafficking victims, from ending up in brothels abroad, including working with the Governments of Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize.
Honduras continued to lack an anti-trafficking law enforcement strategy and a comprehensive anti-trafficking law during the reporting period, though this did not keep authorities from conducting some raids of establishments where traffickers are known to operate. Honduran courts handed down several trafficking-related convictions over the last year. Additionally, the government reported several trafficking-related arrests and also the closure of seven establishments where trafficking was taking place. However, more serious and sustained efforts need to be made to arrest traffickers who operate underage brothels with impunity. Additionally, the Government of Honduras should take more extensive steps to interview and assist adult and foreign victims so they may work with law enforcement officials to prosecute traffickers.
The Honduran Government continued to lack a plan to assist trafficking victims, although it referred victims of trafficking to NGOs that offer support services for victims. Additionally, the government has assisted in the repatriation of Honduran victims from Mexico and the United States. Honduran officials have participated in some trafficking-related training to help them better identify victims and prosecute trafficking cases. However, government policy generally remains ad hoc. Greater resources should be directed to shelter and victim services in the country. More efforts should also be made to aid foreign trafficking victims who are currently subject to summary deportation without assistance.
Honduras continued to lack a comprehensive prevention plan during the reporting period. Additionally, a working group of government agencies, international organizations, and NGOs developed a national plan against the commercial sexual exploitation of children and women, and also drafted legislation to strengthen the law against such crime, which is awaiting review by the Supreme Court of Honduras. The government hosted two seminars on the prevention of the commercial exploitation of minors in August 2004 and has plans to hold additional seminars. Honduras needs to increase its border monitoring efforts to interdict traffickers and rescue their victims. Honduras also needs to increase its efforts to prevent women and children from going abroad into situations where they may be trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation.