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Updated 07/11/2005

Honduras News in Review—July 4, 2005

1. Honduras considers “friendly settlement” in rights abuse case to avoid prosecution through Inter-American Court of Human Rights

2. Honduran human rights special prosecutor demands prison reform

3. Central American countries to create unified force to fight organized crime

4. U.S. signs $215 million development compact with Honduras

5. The Central American Water Tribunal stresses the “human right of water,” expresses concern over privatization

6. LGBT organizations march in Honduras

7. CID-Gallup survey shows corruption, violence main concern of Hondurans 

1. Honduras considers “friendly settlement” in rights abuse case to avoid prosecution through Inter-American Court of Human Rights

The solicitor general of Honduras indicated his support for reaching a “friendly settlement” in court cases brought by Casa Alianza and CEJIL involving the arbitrary detention, torture and murder of minors. Marco Tulio Regalado, former Honduran military officers and member of Battalion 3-16, is accused of participating in the murder of a 16-year-old boy who was arbitrarily detained and killed in 1995. Last week, Regalado was sentenced for the 1983 murder of a leftist activist. [See Honduras News in Review, 6/24/05.] A friendly settlement, mediated by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, would most likely call for government reparations to the victims’ families. If the government does not agree to the settlement, it will most likely face yet another judgment from the Inter-American Court on Human Rights. Most recently, the court ruled against Honduras in the torture and murder of Juan Humberto Sanchez, and another case rights abuse case is currently pending. Ultimately, Honduran President Ricardo Maduro must decide whether the country will enter into friendly settlement deliberations or offer a counter argument to the plaintiffs’ charge. [El Tiempo (Honduras), 6/20/05; more info on the case at CEJIL and IAHRC Web sites] 

2. Honduran human rights special prosecutor demands prison reform

The special prosecutor for human rights in Honduras, Aida Romero, has submitted a corrective habeas corpus petition before the Supreme Court in an attempt to renovate the National Penitentiary. Romero has also called for explanations from the secretary of security as to why inmates are consistently killed while in state custody. Honduras’s prison system has been criticized by human rights activists in recent years following the deaths of hundreds of inmates. In May 2004, 103 prisoners, mostly young gang members, were killed when a fire broke out in San Pedro Sula prison; the inmates were reportedly locked in their cells during the fire. During the previous year, 69 inmates, again mostly gang members, were killed when a riot broke out in El Porvenir prison. [La Tribuna (Honduras), 6/29/05] 

3. Central American countries to create unified force to fight organized crime

Central American leaders meeting at a regional summit last week agreed to create a regional arrest warrant system and “rapid response team” to combat organized crime such as drug trafficking and gang activity. Leaders also decided to develop a common Central American passport and visa. The discussions were part of a two-day meeting, the Seventh Summit of Heads of State and the 25th Assembly of the System of Central American Integration (SICA), on June 29 and 30. Participants included the Central American presidents, the Mexican and Columbian presidents, the foreign affairs officer of the Dominican Republic, the president of the Inter-American Development Bank, and a delegation from the U.S. State Department. Free trade was another key item on the agenda, as summit participants agreed to invest $7.3 billion in Plan Puebla Panamá projects through 2008. Attendants also discussed issues of security, regional democratization, and immigration. Protestors convened outside of the conference site both days of the summit. Most were protesting the Central American Free Trade Agreement and U.S. involvement in the region. [La Prensa (Honduras), 6/29/05; Associated Press, 6/30/05] 

4. U.S. signs $215 million development compact with Honduras

The Millennium Challenge Corporation recently signed a five-year, $215 million “compact” with Honduras to be used for development purposes. Part of the money is earmarked for rural development, which involves teaching rural farmers how to grow “market horticultural crops,” while the largest chunk of the $215 million will go toward improving transportation routes throughout the country. The Millennium Challenge Corporation, which provides development assistance to poor countries, manages the U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Account, approved by Congress in January 2004. [Honduras This Week, 6/20/05; more info on the Honduras Compact at MCC’s Web site]

5. Central American Water Tribunal stresses “human right of water,” expresses concern over privatization

The Central American Water Tribunal held a meeting in Managua on June 22 to encourage government representatives in attendance to guarantee the “human right of water” to their populations. According to the tribunal, 35% of Central Americans, about 14 million, do not have access to potable water, which, apart from leaving much of the populace thirsty and dehydrated, also creates a public health problem. The tribunal director, Javier Bogantes, expressed concern about direct and indirect forms of water privatization, citing the sale of bottled water as a form of indirect privatization and an unfair exclusion of the poor. [Associated Press, 6/22/05; more info at the Central American Water Tribunal Web site] 

6. LGBT organizations march in Honduras

Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender rights organizations in Honduras marched before parliament to celebrate Gay Pride Day. Protesters criticized the stigma and discrimination they face and demanded respect for their sexual preferences. Participants also condemned presidential candidate Porfirio Lobo’s proposal to reinstate the death penalty in Honduras. In August 2004, the Honduran government granted legal status to three LGBT rights organizations. Despite the organizations’ legal status, discrimination is rampant in Honduras. In one famous case, two police officers murdered a transgender person in July 2003. There has been no progress in this case. (EFE News, 6/29/05). 

7. CID-Gallup survey shows corruption, violence main concern of Hondurans

CID-Gallup released the results of a Honduran public opinion survey, taken in early June 2005. Honduran President Ricardo Maduro suffered a nine-point drop in popularity since the last survey in January 2005, leaving opinions of his job performance in the negative range of the CID-Gallup scale. The two major complaints of Hondurans surveyed is corruption in the government and violence and insecurity. Honduras is one of several Central American countries to be plagued with a dramatic rise in violent gang activity and a security and justice system insufficiently equipped to deal with the problem. In addition, Honduras is currently engulfed in government corruption scandals, most notably in the public ministry and the finance ministry. The U.S. Embassy has cancelled the visas of those implicated in corruption scandals. [La Prensa (Honduras), 6/24/05; Overview of results from CID-Gallup]


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