WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

CENTRAL AMERICA MONITOR:

EVALUATING PROGRESS

Central America’s Northern Triangle region is struggling with violence, corruption and impunity.

Scroll for the key findings or to find links to download the full reports under each area of progress.

Evaluating progress in Central America

As Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras struggle with high levels of violence and insecurity, systemic corruption, and widespread impunity, it’s critical that we find ways to assess how the policies and strategies being implemented in the region are contributing to the strengthening of the rule of law, improving transparency and accountability, and to reducing violence and insecurity. Using a comprehensive series of indicators, the Central American Monitor aims to measure progress and identify trends over time in eight key areas directly relevant to rule of law and security, thus providing critical information that can inform policies and strategic investments in the region.

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), the Myrna Mack Foundation (FMM) of Guatemala, the University Institute for Public Opinion (Iudop) of the José Simeón Cañas Central American University (UCA) of El Salvador, the University Institute on Democracy, Peace and Security (IUDPAS) of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) have developed a series of qualitative and quantitative indicators to evaluate progress in Central America in eight key areas.

HONDURAS

Central America’s Northern Triangle region is struggling with violence, corruption and impunity.

Scroll for the key findings or to find links to download the full reports under each area of progress.

Areas of progress

HONDURAS
Areas of progress
1.

Strengthening the Capacity and Independence of Justice Systems

1.1

Capacity of the Justice System

1.2

Internal Independence

1.3

External Independence

HONDURAS / Areas of progress

1. Strengthening the Capacity and Independence of Justice Systems

1.1
Capacity of the Justice System

During the four years examined by the monitor, Honduran justice institutions, with the exception of public defenders, saw an increase in personnel and geographic coverage. However, the number of judges, forensic doctors, prosecutors and public defense attorneys per 100,000 citizens is below the global average, and tends to be concentrated in urban areas.

HONDURAS / Areas of progress

1. Strengthening the Capacity and Independence of Justice Systems

1.2
Internal Independence

Ensuring that competent, qualified personnel are serving in Honduras’s justice sector requires transparent, merit-based selection processes. However, selection processes for justice officials were highly vulnerable to external influence and political pressure. Despite some positive reforms to the process (related to suitability criteria, gender parity and holding public hearings), the 2016 election of Supreme Court magistrates lacked transparency, accountability, and was heavily politicized.

HONDURAS / Areas of progress

1. Strengthening the Capacity and Independence of Justice Systems

1.3
External Independence

While the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Judiciary experienced increases in their budgets from 2014 to 2017, funding remains low and disproportionate when compared to the budgets allocated to the defense and public security sectors during the same period. In 2017, security and defense funds exceeded spending on health and education for the first time in Honduran history.

HONDURAS
Areas of progress
2.

Cooperation with Anti-Impunity Commissions

The Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH, by its Spanish acronym) was launched in 2016 by the Organization of American States (OAS) at the request of the Honduran government. Its mandate came to an end in January 2020 due to a lack of support from the Honduran government.   During the period under review, the Mission promoted various legislative reforms and public policy initiatives to help strengthen anti-corruption efforts. While some of these reforms were considered and approved, by the end of the Mission’s mandate, most of these reforms and initiatives were pending approval. In general, the Mission collaborated with the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Judiciary and other institutions. However, the National Congress constituted one of the main obstacles to the Mission’s work — refusing to debate the bills proposed by MACCIH or adopting measures to disrupt its work. The Congress also carried out election processes for key positions based on political agreements and not technical criteria.  Among MACCIH’s most important advances was the creation of the National Anti-Corruption Jurisdiction, comprised of a system of special courts and a special prosecutor’s office, known as the Special Prosecutor’s Unit against Impunity and Corruption (UFECIC).  The selection and certification process of the officials who comprise the Anti-Corruption Jurisdiction and the UFECIC provided a more objective, clear, and transparent process and should be considered as a model for the selection of other key positions.
2.1

Political Will and Level of Collaboration

HONDURAS / Areas of progress

2. Cooperation with Anti-Impunity Commissions

2.1
Political Will and Level of Collaboration

The Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH, by its Spanish acronym) was launched in 2016 by the Organization of American States (OAS), at the request of the Honduran government. Its mandate came to an end in January 2020 due to a lack of support from the Honduran government.

During the period under review, the Mission promoted various legislative reforms and public policy initiatives to help strengthen anti-corruption efforts. While some of these reforms were considered and approved, by the end of the Mission’s mandate, most of these reforms and initiatives were pending approval. In general, the Mission collaborated with the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Judiciary and other institutions. However, the National Congress constituted one of the main obstacles to the Mission’s work— refusing to debate the bills proposed by MACCIH or adopting measures to disrupt its work. The Congress also carried out election processes for key positions based on political agreements and not technical criteria.

Among MACCIH’s most important advances was the creation of the National Anti-Corruption Jurisdiction, comprised of a system of special courts and a special prosecutor’s office, known as the Special Prosecutor’s Unit against Impunity and Corruption (UFECIC).

The selection and certification process of the officials who comprise the Anti-Corruption Jurisdiction and the UFECIC provided a more objective, clear and transparent process and should be considered as a model for the selection of other key positions.

HONDURAS
Areas of progress
3.

Combatting Corruption

3.1

Levels of Public Trust

3.2

Scope and Implementation of Legislation to Combat Corruption

3.3

Advancements in Criminal Investigations

3.4

Functioning of Oversight Bodies

HONDURAS / Areas of progress

3. Combatting corruption

3.1
Levels of Public Trust

Corruption scandals significantly affect how much citizens say they trust democracy, the government, and political parties. The annual Corruption Perceptions Index published by Transparency International offers a snapshot of citizen perceptions of corruption in Honduras. The Transparency International score ranges from 0 (least transparent) to 100 (most transparent), and is based in part on surveys with experts and companies regarding how corruption is perceived in the public sector. As the table shows, from 2015 to 2017, the perception index dropped one point annually, reflecting a high perception of corruption. By 2017, Honduras was among the 124 countries that scored below 50, and ranked as third most corrupt among Central American countries, above Nicaragua and Guatemala.

HONDURAS / Areas of progress

3. Combatting corruption

3.2
Scope and Implementation of Legislation to Combat Corruption

In 2014, the National Congress began developing a new Criminal Code to replace the 1983 version, which is considered to be out of date. Approved by legislators in early 2018, the new code is set to become effective in 2020. The new law reduces penalties for a number of corruption-related offenses, including embezzlement, influence peddling, obstruction of justice, and bribery. The law is also retroactive and would benefit those already convicted or facing prosecution.  Moreover, the new code does not regulate the practice of nepotism or illicit financing, although it does sanction the use of privileged information for the first time.

HONDURAS / Areas of progress

3. Combatting corruption

3.3
Advancements in Criminal Investigations

Over a four-year period (2014-2017), the Public Prosecutor’s Office received 7,433 complaints, a 43 percent increase in complaints regarding possible cases of corruption. The data provided by the Public Prosecutor’s Office shows that an estimated 12 percent of complaints received between 2014 and 2017 were investigated. In about 223 of these cases, the Public Prosecutor’s filed charges (90 cases in 2016; 70 in 2015; and 63 in 2014). Of these, 69 went to the trial stage. The table below shows a more detailed breakdown. From 2014 to 2017, the Judiciary accepted 534 cases related to possible corruption offenses. Of these, 23.7 percent resulted in convictions.    

HONDURAS / Areas of progress

3. Combatting corruption

3.4
Functioning of Oversight Bodies

The government’s main corruption oversight body is the Superior Court of Accounts. Created in 2002, its function is to control the use of public funds, assets and resources. This body includes a department tasked with monitoring compliance with public asset laws and reviewing the records of public officials to determine wrong-doing. However, the institution is in a vulnerable situation, as large corruption scandals were made public between 2014 and 2017. As of 2017, there were about 25 investigations handled by the Court on the verge of shutting down, as they’d been opened a decade ago and were nearing the statute of limitations deadline.   Moreover, in 2018, the Congress amended the Budget Law making the TSC the only institution capable of auditing public funds. The law also prohibits the Public Prosecutor from investigating cases of corruption within the legislative branch until after the TSC completes an audit, which normally take up to three years.  Another key corruption oversight body in Honduras is the National Anti-Corruption Council (CNA by its Spanish acronym), a civil society group established by legislative decree in 2005. It cannot initiate criminal proceedings, but it can share research findings with the Attorney General’s Office and attend trials. Of the 88 investigations presented by the CNA since its creation, only 15 have resulted in prosecutions. As the accompanying table shows, the CNA has recommended that prosecutions be opened into corruption cases involving the embezzlement of hundreds of millions of lempiras. 

HONDURAS
Areas of progress
4.

Tackling Violence and Organized Crime

4.1

National Law in Accordance with International Standards

4.2

Investigative Capacities and Prosecution of Criminal Networks and Organized Crime

4.3

Effectiveness of Investigations of Criminal Networks and Organized Crime

HONDURAS / Areas of progress

4. Tackling Violence and Organized Crime

4.1
National Law in Accordance with International Standards

In recent decades, Honduras has made legal advances to help prevent, detect, and punish violence and organized crime. Some important mechanisms were approved to combat organized crime, such as wiretapping, controlled deliveries, and use of undercover agents. However, the refusal to approve the Law on Effective Collaboration or interest in strengthening the witness protection program contradicts these advances. In general, regulations passed since 2010 are reactive and militaristic in nature, concentrating power in the executive branch at the expense of legislative and judicial branches. In addition to these measures reflecting the prioritization of security and defense, rather than the justice sector, they have been accompanied by legislation that restricts access to public information.

For example, despite the existence of a Law to Control Firearms, Explosives, and Similar Items, its restrictions are relaxed when it comes to carrying weapons and granting licenses. This regulation is in place despite the fact that 77 percent of homicides are committed with a firearm.

HONDURAS / Areas of progress

4. Tackling Violence and Organized Crime

4.2
Investigative Capacities and Prosecution of Criminal Networks and Organized Crime

The Public Prosecutor’s Office has various entities for investigating possible offenses involving violence and organized crime. It has two directorates, a technical agency for investigation, four special prosecutors’ offices, and six specialized units to investigate homicides, femicides, kidnapping, extortion, human trafficking, illicit trafficking, asset laundering, and criminal conspiracy, among other crimes. However, the Public Prosecutor’s Office allocated $40.9 million, or 18.9 percent of its total budget, to these entities. As demonstrated in the table, the majority of funds were allocated to the Technical Agency of Criminal Investigation (ATIC for its title in Spanish), followed by the National Directorate for the Fight against Drug Trafficking. The Special Prosecutor’s Office for Women (FEM) received 8.3% of the funds and the witness protection program only received 2%. The budget of the FEM contrasts with its demand on human resources, having received 69,000 complaints in the period under study. By the end of 2017, these directorates, prosecutors’ offices and units accounted for 536 total staff, or 14 percent of total staff of the Public Prosecutor’s Office. The ATIC had the largest number of personnel, followed by the Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes against Life and the Prosecutor’s Office dedicated to investigating organized crime. The judicial branch has created specialized bodies for fighting violence and organized crime, including Jurisdictional Bodies with National Territorial Competence, a Criminal Court of First Instance and a Criminal Appeals Court with National Jurisdiction on Extortion Matters and two Special Anti-Domestic Violence Courts.

HONDURAS / Areas of progress

4. Tackling Violence and Organized Crime

4.3
Effectiveness of Investigations of Criminal Networks and Organized Crime

Based on the information provided by the Public Prosecutor’s Office regarding crimes against life between 2014 and 2017, the Prosecutor’s Office received 20,053 complaints of homicide, 1,042 of murder, 51 of parricide, and 123 of femicide. In that four-year period, the Public Prosecutor’s Office filed charges in 303 cases for the offense of homicide, 711 for murder, 44 for parricide, and 47 for femicide. For crimes related to organized criminal activity, the Public Prosecutor’s Office received 6,488 formal complaints between 2014 and 2017. Of these, 42.7% (2,775) were for drug trafficking (including small-scale street dealing), 31.2% (2,024) for extortion, 7.8% (505) for illicit trafficking, 4.6% (229) for human trafficking, 4.5% for illegal manufacture and trafficking of weapons, 3.5% (229) for asset laundering, and less than 3% for kidnapping and unlawful association. In that period, the Public Prosecutor’s Office filed 1,244 criminal charges for extortion, 85 for kidnapping, 30 for human trafficking (between 2016 and 2017), 37 for money laundering (between 2014, 2015, and 2016), and 52 for the illegal manufacture and trafficking of weapons. No data was available on charges filed for crimes of drug trafficking or illicit trafficking. Between 2014 and 2017, the Public Prosecutor’s Office received 76,992 formal complaints for alleged crimes committed against women. Of all the complaints, 38.1% regarded domestic violence, 16.9% physical violence, 16.2% intrafamily violence and 6.2% sexual assault. It’s important to note that the Public’s Prosecutor’s Office did not provide data on criminal charges it filed for these offenses.

HONDURAS
Areas of progress
5.

Strengthening of Civilian Police Forces

5.1

Functioning of Police Career Systems

HONDURAS / Areas of progress

5. Strengthening of Civilian Police Forces

5.1
Functioning of Police Career Systems

In 2017, the government approved a new Organic Law of the National Police and Police Career Law. While they do have limitations, these new laws lay the foundations for modernizing the institution’s structure and developing a training, career and merit-based promotion system.

While there has been growth in the size of the police force, the Honduran National Police remains well below minimum international standards recommended for national coverage. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) recommends countries have a minimum average of 300 police officers per 100,000 people. In 2014, the average number of police officers per 100,000 people in Honduras was 149; 141 in 2015; 157 in 2016; and 169 in 2017. In order to meet the recommendations of the UNODC, the PNH would have needed 26,580 officers in 2017. In other words, that year there was a deficit of 11,630 officers.

Between 2014 and 2017, the country witnessed a notable process of “privatization” of public safety responsibilities. In 2015, the ratio of private security guards to police officers was five to one, demonstrating the gaps in public safety efforts as the National Police fills other functions, as well as the economic profitability that the private sector finds in the public security sector.

Since 2000, there have been various attempts to reform the National Police and address the problems of abuse and corruption within the institution. In 2012, the government created the Commission for Public Security Reform (CRSP), made up of national and international representatives tasked with proposing comprehensive reforms to security and justice institutions. After presenting various reforms, which failed to advance due to lack of congressional support, the CRSP ceased operating in 2014. As part of this effort, the government created the Directorate for Investigation and Evaluation of the Police Career (DIECP). However, the DIECP faced criticism for failure to deliver results, and the government dissolved the agency in 2015. From 2012 to 2015, the DIECP had evaluated 8,546 police and removed only 227, all of whom were low-ranking individuals. In 2016, the government formed a Special Commission to Purge and Transform the Honduran National Police. By April 2018, it had removed 4,627 police officers.

HONDURAS
Areas of progress
6.

Limiting the Role of the Armed Forces in Public Security Activities

6.1

Development and Implementation of a Concrete Plan

6.2

Conduct of Military Forces

HONDURAS / Areas of progress

6. Limiting the Role of the Armed Forces in Public Security Activities

6.1
Development and Implementation of a Concrete Plan

Between 2014 and 2017, the role of the armed forces continued a pattern of expanding its mandate to include public security functions, a role that normally falls to civilian police. A clear example of this was the creation of the Military Police of Public Order (PMOP) in 2013, composed of the armed forces and which sought to deploy to neighborhoods and public spaces under the control of organized criminal networks. By August 2017, the PMOP had 3,300 soldiers assigned to seven battalions. By the end of 2017, the PMOP had four times as many forces than the number of police officers dedicated to criminal investigation.

Between 2014 and 2017, the Ministry of Defense received a budget of around $959.3 million (L23,748,938,410), which increased annually. Part of these funds were used to finance the role of the military in public security functions. Of all the funds directed towards the security and justice sectors during the period under study, 42.9% of the budget was allocated to the Ministry of Defense. When comparing the budget of the Public Prosecutor’s Office with that of the Ministry of Defense, for every Lempira received by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the armed forces received 4.39 Lempiras. The budget for the Ministry of Defense represents 41% of funds collected through the so-called “security tax” under the Population Security Law. In 2014 and 2015, the military was the biggest beneficiary of the security tax. In 2016 and 2017, a larger percentage went to the police. Part of these funds financed the creation and continuation of the PMOP.

HONDURAS / Areas of progress

6. Limiting the Role of the Armed Forces in Public Security Activities

6.2
Conduct of Military Forces

Between 2014 and 2017, Honduras experienced an increase in the number of complaints related to the excessive use of force by the Armed Forces. For example, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) cited conflict and violence that occurred around the general elections in November 2017, reporting that at least 23 people died in the post-election protests. According to reports, most injuries were inflicted by the military police or the Armed Forces.

HONDURAS
Areas of progress
7.

Protecting Human Rights

7.1

Investigation and Conviction of Human Rights Violations

7.2

Protection Mechanisms

7.3

Hate Speech

HONDURAS / Areas of progress

7. Protecting Human Rights

7.1
Investigation and Conviction of Human Rights Violations

Numerous international and national human rights bodies call attention to the serious human rights situation in Honduras. Despite the high levels of violence and abuse against human rights defenders, there is a lack of official data on the attacks and threats against them. Data collected by the Monitor from multiple primary and secondary sources indicate that 141 defenders were killed in Honduras between 2014 and 2017. Murder attempts were made against another 13 in the same period. Among those killed, 10 had been granted protective measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The creation of a specialized prosecutor's office to deal with cases of crimes against human rights and defenders was an important step. However, the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights (FEDDHH) has limited jurisdiction and lacks specialized human rights protocols as well as the necessary human and financial resources. By the end of 2017, for example, the Prosecutor's Office had 18 prosecutors.

HONDURAS / Areas of progress

7. Protecting Human Rights

7.2
Protection Mechanisms

The Law for Protection of Human Rights Defenders, Journalists, Social Communicators, and Justice Officials, and its supporting regulations were an important step forward. However, staffing and resources at these institutions are low, limiting their effectiveness. For example, the units responsible for receiving cases and conducting risk analyses have 10 staff members for the entire country. This greatly limits the mechanism's ability to respond to urgent or emergency cases. By the end of 2017, the mechanism had received 230 requests, admitting 165 cases and rejecting 65. More than 71 percent of beneficiaries are human rights defenders, followed by journalists and communicators. Alarmingly, the system tends to rely on police escorts, temporary relocation, and technological measures (cameras, gates, panic buttons, etc). During the period analyzed, there was no record of psycho-social support nor preventative measures aimed at reducing risk factors and improving the prosecution of those responsible for threats.

HONDURAS / Areas of progress

7. Protecting Human Rights

7.3
Hate Speech

A major concern in Honduras is the wrongful use of criminal law by judicial officials to criminalize defenders. Worryingly, it was difficult to access quantitative data on cases of criminalization during the period analyzed. As occurs in other countries, Honduran officials apply criminal offenses that don’t always respect legal principles or international standards. The Public Prosecutor’s Office, through the Common Crime Prosecutor’s Office, perpetuates the criminalization of human rights defenders. There are multiple cases in which defenders have been charged with land usurpation, threats, sedition, robbery, arson, unlawful association, and even homicide and murder; hampering their work and increasing the risks they face. The Honduran Attorney General’s Office does not maintain data regarding the number of complaints about threats delivered through online hate and defamation campaigns. However, international human rights organizations have observed the wide use of social media to perpetrate online hate campaigns against rights defenders in Honduras. Human rights defenders say they most frequently receive threats through anonymous phone calls, voice or text messages on platforms like WhatsApp, and defamatory Facebook pages populated by fake accounts.

HONDURAS
Areas of progress
8.

Improving Transparency

8.1

Scope and Implementation of Public Information Access Laws

8.2

Budget and Spending Transparency

8.3

Disclosure of Public Officials’ Statement of Assets

HONDURAS / Areas of progress

8. Improving Transparency

8.1
Scope and Implementation of Public Information Access Laws

In 2006, Honduras approved the Transparency and Public Information Access Law (LTAIP), which regulates the right to information and creates an independent institute, known as the IAIP, to facilitate citizens' access to public information and oversee the procedures required by the law. However, without considering IAIP guidelines, the Honduran government has enacted counter-reforms that increase secrecy and make it harder for the public to access information. These laws make it particularly difficult to access information related to defense and security issues (including the National Police and Armed Forces). The counter-reforms have also affected the investigation of cases of corruption and human rights violations, and limited civic oversight efforts. These laws include:

  •  The Law on the Classification of Public Documents Related to National Security and Defense, also known as the "Law on Secrets” (approved in 2014). Aspects of the law infringe on the provisions of the Public Information Access Law by granting the National Defense and Security Council (CNDS) power to classify documents related to security and national defense, introducing new categories of confidential information, and extending the period of secrecy, among other provisions.  
  • The National Intelligence Law, approved in 2013, establishes that the National Directorate of Investigation and Intelligence “will operate as a decentralized entity of the CNDS and will enjoy functional, administrative and budgetary independence; for which the Secretary of State in the Finance Office, will make the corresponding budgetary provisions according to article 10 of the Special Law of the National Council of Defense and Security.” The National Directorate can collect personal information, but it is confidential and not accountable to any civilian body.
  • The Population Security Law (approved in 2011 and reformed in 2013). The law levies a tax to generate funds to prevent and combat crime, but there is little transparency around how these funds are being collected and spent. The Monitor found that any purchases made using these funds are not publicly available online. In one case, funds collected under this law were used to purchase a luxury presidential jet. 

HONDURAS / Areas of progress

8. Improving Transparency

8.2
Budget and Spending Transparency

The graphic below explains what types of information government agencies are required to publish online under the Honduran Transparency and Public Information Access Law (LTAIP). The transparency portals of the defense, security and justice sector institutions in general are limited in their ability to search for information, access statistics and submit information requests. They also show deficiencies in navigating between each other and being directed to the central portal. However, in accordance with Monthly Verification Reports and based on the data contained in the government's Single Transparency Portal, the IAIP has given the Secretary of Security, Secretary of Defense, and the Judiciary a rating of 100% compliance. Meanwhile, in 2017, the Public Prosecutor's Office received an 85% compliance rating.

HONDURAS / Areas of progress

8. Improving Transparency

8.3
Disclosure of Public Officials’ Statement of Assets

By law, public officials are required to present an annual declaration of their income and assets to the Superior Court of Accounts, the entity responsible for overseeing the use of funds, assets, and resources administered by institutions handling state resources. However, there is a ban on making this information public, which is a major obstacle to improving transparency and accountability, and is incompatible with the Court’s accountability function, allowing it to detect possible cases of illicit enrichment.  Another problem is that the Superior Court of Accounts doesn’t have an effective way of verifying the asset declarations it receives from public officials. The body will only move to do so if a formal complaint is filed about the veracity of a public official’s declaration.

GLOSSARY

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), the Myrna Mack Foundation (FMM) of Guatemala, the University Institute for Public Opinion (Iudop) of the José Simeón Cañas Central American University (UCA) of El Salvador, the University Institute on Democracy, Peace and Security (IUDPAS) of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) have developed a series of indicators to assess the progress in Central America in eight key areas. That progress will reflect both the commitment of Central American governments and the effectiveness of international assistance. The indicators include a combination of quantitative data and qualitative analysis in order to gain a more in-depth understanding of the changes taking place in each country. Data sources include official documents and statistics, surveys, interviews, and reviews of existing laws and regulations that will be systematically compiled.

WOLA, the Myrna Mack Foundation, Iudop, and IUDPAS developed these indicators in a months-long process that included review of international standards, consultation with experts, and consensus among all partners about the key issues to address.
Our goal is to provide an instrument that can help identify the areas of progress and opportunities for improvement shortfalls for of the policies and strategies being implemented on the ground in a form that is useful for policymakers, donors, academics, and the public. At the same time, we hope to provide analysis that can contribute to the evaluation of trends over time both within and between the countries of the Northern Triangle.

1
Strengthening the Capacity and Independence of Justice Systems

Capacity of the Justice System: Number of criminal justice officials, geographical coverage, workload, effectiveness, and public trust.

Internal Independence: Existence and implementation of a public, merit-based selection process free from external influence, a results-based evaluation system, and an effective disciplinary system.

External Independence: Size of budget allocated for the judicial sector and implementation of national and international protection measures for justice officials.

2
Cooperation with Anti-Impunity Commissions

Political Will and Level of Collaboration: Commitment of the state to collaborate and enable the work of the CICIG in Guatemala and the MACCIH in Honduras, demonstrated by the progress of emblematic cases, the approval of legislative reforms, and support for domestic counterparts working with these commissions.

3
Combating Corruption

Level of Public Trust: Degree of public trust in state institutions involved in efforts to prevent, identify, investigate, and punish corruption.

Scope and Implementation of Legislation to Combat Corruption: Classification of new crimes in criminal codes and reforms of existing anti-corruption laws to adhere to international standards.

Advancements in Criminal Investigations: Number of corruption cases filed, prosecuted, and resolved, as well as the progress made in emblematic cases.

Functioning of Oversight Bodies: Existence and capacity of external oversight bodies or agencies to combat corruption.

4
Tackling Violence and Organized Crime

Capacity Building: Existence and functioning of specialized anti-organized crime units, application of scientific and technical investigative methods, and functioning of judges or tribunals dedicated to the prosecution of organized crime

Advances in Criminal Investigations: The number of organized crime-related cases filed, prosecuted, and resolved, as well as the progress made in emblematic cases.

Crime Reduction: Convictions for homicides, extortion, and against criminal networks, as well as a reduction in serious and violent crimes.

5
Strengthening Civilian Police Forces

Functioning of Police Career Systems: Existence and effectiveness of police recruitment and promotion mechanisms, training processes, and disciplinary systems, as well as the structure of police bodies.

Allocation and Use of Budgetary Resources: Allocation and effective use of public funds and percentage designated for the wellbeing of members of the civilian police forces.

Community Relations: Public trust in the police, police-community relations, and relations with indigenous authorities.

6
Limiting the Role of the Armed Forces in Public Security Activities

Development and Implementation of a Concrete Plan: The design and implementation of a publicly accessible and verifiable plan with goals, timelines, activities, and clearly established indicators; repeal of legal norms authorizing participation of armed forces in public security, and access to information regarding payroll and assigned resources.

Conduct of Military Forces: Complaints, accusations, and sentences regarding human rights violations perpetrated by members of the armed forces and the level of public trust in the armed forces.

7
Protecting Human Rights

Investigation and Conviction of Human Rights Violations: Existence and functioning of specialized investigative units, number of complaints, prosecutions, and convictions, handling of emblematic cases, and degree of security forces’ collaboration with investigations.

Protection Mechanisms: Structure and functioning of domestic protection mechanisms and implementation of international protection measures for human rights defenders who have been victims of attacks or threats.

Hate Speech: Analysis of attacks and smear or defamation campaigns against human rights defenders.

8
Improving Transparency

Scope and Implementation of the ‘Law of Access to Public Information’: Type of information categorized as restricted or of limited access, period of classification, availability and quality of statistics related to security and justice, information requests granted and denied, and related fees.

Budget and Spending Transparency: Access to public information on budget allocations and spending on security, justice, and defense.

Disclosure of Public Officials’ Statement of Assets: Level of official compliance with disclosure norms, and the degree to which such statements are made available to the public.

METHODOLOGY

The Central America Monitor is based on the premise that accurate, objective, and complete data and information are necessary to reduce the high levels of violence and insecurity, and establish rule of law and governance in a democratic state. This will allow efforts to move beyond abstract discussions of reform to specific measures of change.

The Monitor is based on a series of more than 100 quantitative and qualitative indicators that allow a more profound level of analysis of the successes or setbacks made in eight key areas in each of the three countries. More than a comprehensive list, the indicators seek to identify a way to examine and assess the level of progress of the three countries in strengthening the rule of law and democratic institutions. The indicators seek to identify the main challenges in each of the selected areas and examine how institutions are (or are not) being strengthened over time. The Monitor uses information from different sources, including official documents and statistics, surveys, interviews, information from emblematic cases, and analysis of existing laws and regulations.

The indicators were developed over several months in a process that included an extensive review of international standards and consultation with experts. The eight areas analyzed by the Monitor include:

  • 1. Strengthening the Capacity and Independence of Justice Systems
  • 2. Cooperation with Anti-Impunity Commissions
  • 3. Combating Corruption
  • 4. Tackling Violence and Organized Crime
  • 5. Strengthening Civilian Police Forces
  • 6. Limiting the Role of the Armed Forces in Public Security Activities
  • 7. Protecting Human Rights
  • 8. Improving Transparency