WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

(AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

19 Sep 2019 | Publication

WOLA and IUDPAS Release Report on Capacity of the Honduran Justice System

Central American Monitor

Honduras has faced a serious crisis of crime and violence over the last decade, reaching the highest rate of homicides worldwide in 2012. While this figure has gone down in recent years, the actual rate is four times higher than the international average, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

This insecurity generates an elevated demand from citizens for justice-related services. However, the response by the Honduran government has revealed deep-rooted issues with structural impunity, caused, above all, by widespread corruption, lack of judicial independence, and institutional weaknesses within the justice system.

The analysis in this report is based on the principle that an efficient justice system is essential to strengthening rule of law and other state institutions, improve citizen trust, provide legal guarantees, and promote human development in addition to investment. Consequently, the state is responsible for guaranteeing an equitable, responsible, ethical, and efficient system that complies with the law and respect for human rights.

This report analyzes findings related to the first group of Central America Monitor indicators, which focus on building the capacity and strengthening independence of the Honduran justice system.

This study is based on a group of qualitative and quantitative indicators to evaluate levels of progress or setbacks in the strengthening of the Honduran justice system. It covers data corresponding to 2014-2017, sourced from the Judiciary, the National Directorate of Public Defense, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and the General Directorate of Forensic Medicine.

Specifically, the report analyzes three main areas:

  1. Justice system capacity, including human resources, geographic distribution of justice institutions, efficiency, and public trust.
  2. Internal judicial independence, including the existence of independent and impartial justice operators that can act in strict compliance with national law and international treaties. This includes an assessment of the existence and implementation of rigorous and transparent personnel selection procedures, based on international standards, as well as permanent and effective performance and evaluation procedures.
  3. External judicial independence, which assesses the allocation, distribution, and use of economic resources assigned to Honduras’ justice sector as well as the procedures used to guarantee the safety of justice sector employees.

The indicators developed are intertwined with the indicators defined by the United Nations Organization (UN) and the Organization of American States (OAS), which evaluate the criminal justice administration systems with regards to their effectiveness, quality of officials and internal and external independence.

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