Honduras 2016 Human Rights Committee

The Advocates for Human Rights (“The Advocates”) submitted a list of issues report for the 118th Session of the UN Human Rights Committee regarding Honduras’ failure to comply with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as it applies to violence against women.

In the last review of Honduras, the Human Rights Committee expressed deep concern at the “persistence of a high number of violent deaths of women and of ill-treatment as a recurrent practice, as well as the impunity of the aggressors.” Despite some efforts to address gender-based violence, conditions have worsened for women in Honduras in recent years. Within the country, there are alarmingly high levels of gun violence and femicide, domestic violence, enforced disappearances, human trafficking, and sexual violence that continue to rise. Honduran women face gender-based violence at the hands of many people, including relatives, strangers, gang members, and intimate partners. Women struggle to find refuge from these abuses, as fleeing to another part of Honduras often provides no relief. Women also experience barriers to bringing their cases to justice for fear of retribution and lack of sufficient police response. Instead of providing protection, police and other systems actors encourage reconciliation with the abuser. The UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women recently reported that Honduras has a 95% impunity rate for sexual violence and femicide crimes.  Instances of trafficking remain “grossly underreported due to the hidden nature of the crime,” and local police have been known to provide protection to brothel owners by tipping them off or purchasing sex acts from child trafficking victims.

In its case intake process, The Advocates has seen a dramatic increase in the number of Honduran women who have fled gender-based violence in order to seek asylum in the United States, and their experiences confirm the “systematic indifference” and failure of the Honduran justice system actors to protect and support victims of domestic and sexual violence. The Advocates included several suggestions of questions for the Government of Honduras including assessing the enactment of necessary legislative measures to protect women’s rights, ensuring sufficient resources for women victims of violence, and evaluating current criminal justice responses to end impunity.