Honduras: Torture committed by security forces during the emergency regime must be investigated

During the 79th Session of the Committee Against Torture (CAT) on Wednesday 17th April and Thursday 18th April 2024, the CAT conducted its 3rd periodic review of Honduras. The country rapporteurs were Mr. Heller, Ms. Maeda and Mr. Contesse (observer).

The country delegation was led by Ms. Angélica Lizeth Álvarez, The Secretary of State by Law in the Human Rights Office.

Main issues discussed

The CAT experts expressed serious concerns about the maintenance of the state of emergency in the country, that causes the violation of fundamental rights, such as the right to freedom of assembly. Moreover, it has a severe impact on the use and practice of torture, enforced disappearance, extrajudicial killings committed by police and military forces. The recurrent renewal of the state of emergency worried them a lot, as it has already been renewed 10 times.

In 2022, there were 564 allegations of human rights violations, 10 of which were deemed to be degrading and inhuman treatment in penitentiary centres. The CAT experts confronted Honduras with the sad record of the highest number of murders of human rights defenders in 2023 and highlighted the 2024 report of the High Commissioner which showed at least 15 murders of rights defenders and journalists. Furthermore, the committee is concerned about the misuse of criminal law against human rights defenders.

As regards the conditions of detention, CAT experts raised serious concerns about the lack of cameras within Honduras detention centres with inmates facing physical, psychosocial or sexual torture. A study revealed 8 out of 10 inmates have been subjected to a violation of fundamental human rights. CAT experts regretted the lack of precise figures in the absence of a uniform register on the matter and the existence of only 10 cases brought before the courts. They also noted the absence of a uniform register within Honduras detention centres for detainees leading to high levels of overcrowding going unnoticed. In September 2023, in 25 prisons there was an overcrowding of 28% with 19,597 Inmates, when the maximum capacity is meant to be 14,780 persons.

The Committee was also concerned at reports that children deprived of their liberty at the Jalteva Pedagogical Internment Center are often subjected to violent assaults and that they are in prolonged collective isolation serving precautionary measures or sanctions under a maximum security regime. They are also concerned about the information received on the inadequate material conditions of the cells of the center, as well as the lack of access to adequate educational and rehabilitation programs.

The Committee also regretted the prohibition of abortion in Honduras in every circumstance, which poses a major threat to women and girls. In addition, they expressed concern about the limited access to contraception, especially in hospitals.

The CAT’s recommendations are available here.

Follow-up recommendations:

The State party should provide information by the 10th of May 2025 on the implementation of recommendations regarding:

  • The independence of the administration of justice
  • The control and management of the prison system, violence and deaths in prisons
  • The protection of human rights defenders, indigenous leaders and journalists

Watch here (part one and part two) of the dialogue with the CAT.

Read our alternative report to the CAT (in Spanish)