Honduras Human Rights Council Violence Against Women Sept. 2014

The Advocates for Human Rights in collaboration with the International Action Network on Small Arms and Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de las Mujeres–Honduras submitted a joint stakeholder report on violence against women in Honduras to the U.N. Human Rights Council for Honduras’ second Universal Periodic Review.

Violence against women is widespread and systematic in Honduras, affecting women and girls in numerous ways. Within the country, there are high levels of gun violence, domestic violence, femicide, and sexual violence. The Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women noted that “between 2005 and 2013, the number of violent deaths of women rose by 263.4 percent.”

During its last UPR, Honduras accepted all the Human Rights Council’s recommendations relating to violence against women. The Honduran government has taken some positive steps to curb violence against women by enacting a number of laws that address gender-based violence. It has also ratified a number of treaties relevant to its obligations to prevent acts of violence against women and hold perpetrators accountable. Nonetheless, much needs to be done for Honduras to fulfill its international obligations regarding violence against women.

Honduras is one of the world’s most violent countries, with towering murder rates fueled by guns:

  • In 2013, the femicide rate was 14.6 per 100,000. Seventy-five percent of these killings were by firearms.
  • Statistics from the Public Prosecutor’s Office reveal about 16,000 reported allegations of numerous manifestations of violence against women for 2012, with 74.6 percent related to domestic and intra-family violence, and 20 percent related to sexual offenses.
  • From 2009 to 2012, victims filed 82,547 domestic violence complaints, representing an average of 20,637 complaints per year, of which 92 percent were filed by women.
  • Honduras has a 95 percent impunity rate for sexual violence and femicide crimes.

This joint stakeholder submission highlights key challenges and provides recommendations for the Honduran government, including the need to:

  • Strengthen the criminal justice response to gender-related violence and end impunity for femicide, domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault by ensuring accountability and punishing perpetrators of those crimes against women;
  • Establish a comprehensive program to protect women from violence, including public education, services for victims, crisis centers and shelter programs, aggressive prosecutions, training for law enforcement, investigators, prosecutors, judges, and educators;
  • Work to increase coordinated community response among nongovernmental organizations, police, courts, health care providers, and the media;
  • Prohibit the acquisition, possession, and carrying of firearms by people subject to complaints of domestic, family, or gender-based violence, regardless of whether a criminal conviction has been recorded. Require the seizure and destruction of firearms in possession of people subject to complaints of domestic, family, or gender-based violence;
  • Reform the gun law  to include more stringent requirements for gun licensing and registration; reduction of the maximum number of guns a civilian can possess or carry; establish a minimum age of 25 years for possessing or carrying a gun; limits on the amount of ammunition that a person may buy; and a prohibition on the purchase of ammunition for any gun for which the purchaser does not have a valid license;
  • Enact legislation that allows victims of gender-based violence to bring civil lawsuits against family member perpetrators, regardless of whether criminal charges are also brought;
  • Enact legislation allowing survivors to bring civil lawsuits against individuals and state entities that fail to prevent, investigate, or punish acts of gender-based violence;
  • Enact legislation mandating that police, prosecutors, and the judiciary investigate the level of risk to domestic violence victims;
  • Ensure that laws, policies, procedures, and practices pertaining to decisions on the arrest, detention, and terms of any form of release of the perpetrator take into account the need for the safety of the victim and other family members;
  • In determining bail in cases of violations of protection orders, ensure that police and judicial officials make determinations about victim safety, and place conditions upon the release of the offender that reflect these concerns; and
  • Enact legislation providing effective sanctions against all authorities who do not comply with the provisions of the legislation in order to ensure that officials charged with implementing the legislation fulfill their responsibilities.