Democracy and rights
The democratic institutions are weak in
Honduras characterized by corruption and violence.
Freedom of the press and freedom of expression is
circumvented and the country has become one of the most
dangerous in the world for both environmental activists
Elections are held regularly but accusations of
voting and other irregularities surround not least the
last election, 2017. Objections came from opposition
parties as well as from foreign election observers. But
even though the regional cooperation organization OAS
advocated that the election should be made if it was
rejected by the authorities.
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Honduras, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
In addition, a decision in the Supreme Court the year
before had made it possible for incumbent President Juan
Orlando Hernández to stand for re-election, although the
Constitution really prohibits it. The court's decision
is politically contentious and the president's
legitimacy remains strongly questioned (see Current
Furthermore, prosecutors in the United States claim
that President Hernández received millions in bribes
through his brother Tony Hernández, who was convicted of
drug smuggling by a New York court (see below).
The military still has political influence. Many
former soldiers hold civilian posts, especially in
security operations. The right of assembly and
organization is limited and the ordering authority often
uses violence against protesters.
Human rights defenders and activists primarily for
the environment, land rights and indigenous peoples are
subject to threats, abuse and deadly violence. In a case
that caused much consternation also in the outside
world, a prominent environmental activist and advocate
for the rights of indigenous peoples, Berta Cáceres
(2016) was murdered in 2016. She had received more than
30 death threats because of her work to stop a dam
construction (see Current policy). Over 120
environmental activists are estimated to have been
killed since 2010 in Honduras, one of the world's most
dangerous countries for this kind of activism.
Gang violence, impunity and corruption form an
explosive mix. Honduras has previously placed an
unflattering first place on the list of murders per
inhabitant in countries that are not at war. However,
the situation has improved - between 2011 and 2017, the
number of murders per 100,000 residents was halved.
According to the authorities, the positive development
is the result of vigorous efforts against drug lords and
other criminal gangs. At the same time, there are
warnings that the security strategy can trigger new
violence and retaliation. In the first two weeks of 2019
alone, 30 people were murdered in eight separate
massacres. Since 2010, the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights has a special
representation in Honduras.
In Transparency International's index of countries
after corruption, Honduras is ranked 146 out of 180 (the
full list is here). Just as in other indices that
measure political and civil rights, Honduras is one of
the worst countries in Latin America.
Freedom of expression and media
Media freedom in Honduras is limited, among other
things, by a law that prohibits defamation and may
compel journalists to reveal their sources. Journalists
who awaken the authority of the authorities are
subjected to abuse, threats and harassment, and risk
that broadcasts or publications are stopped. Following a
law change in 2017, journalists can be sentenced to
prison under terrorism law if they are considered to
have encouraged terrorism or hatred.
The media climate has worsened during the 2000s and
after the summer of 2009 (see Modern history), the
country is described as one of the most dangerous in the
world for journalists. Nearly 80 media workers have been
murdered following the coup against then-President
Manuel Zelaya. Prior to that, "only" four journalist
murders had been committed during the 1990s and before
that almost 20 years passed without any murders.
According to the National Human Rights Commission
Conadeh, only a few of the last decade's murders have
been properly investigated. Violence against journalists
has also increased in general.
Honduras lands 148 out of 180 on Reporters Without
Borders's list of media freedom in the world - in Latin
America, only Cuba is ranked even worse (see full list
here). In connection with the 2017 election, countless
cases of threats and violence against media
representatives were reported.
Journalists often engage in self-censorship, also in
order not to conflict with the owners' interests.
Both journalists and citizen groups have difficulty
obtaining information from the authorities. A security
law passed in 2014 gives the authorities the right to
secretly stamp information relating to security and
national defense for up to 25 years. The law includes,
among other things, the budget of the military police
and information relating to the Supreme Court's
Judicial system and legal security
The justice system is weakened by corruption and
political governance. The inability to deal with rampant
violence and crime and to handle reported abuse after
the 2009 coup d'état shows problems within the judicial
system. Hundreds of journalists, lawyers and human
rights activists have since been harassed, threatened
Although the situation was serious even in the past,
many human rights organizations state that the coup
d'état is a breaking point. They also claim that death
patrols from the 1980s have resurfaced, financed by
businessmen. Authorities are accusing the youth gang and
organized crime of the crimes. Few of the crimes are
investigated. Both international and national human
rights organizations have reported on how police and
military themselves participate in harassment or
actively hinder criminal investigations.
After revealing that high-ranking police officers
ordered the murder of an official who worked against the
drug trade and a security adviser, in 2016 a police
clearance was initiated, which resulted in 4,000 police
officers being fired in one year. At the same time,
2,500 new police officers who had received special
training in human rights were hired.
An anti-fraud scandal in the social security system
in 2015 (see Current policy) contributed to Honduras's
decision in early 2016 to establish an OAS- supported
body to investigate corruption and impunity within the
country's political and legal system, Maacih (see
Calendar). Many of those who took part in demonstrations
against the government had demanded a body that was also
given the power to prosecute, more like a UN-supported
effort in Guatemala (see Guatemala-Political system).
But Maacih has in any case contributed to the
introduction of new legislation in order to prevent
illegal campaign contributions in connection with
elections. At the same time, there is information that
the political elite is opposing Maachih.
In 2017, data also emerged that seemed to be evidence
of strong links between the country's political
leadership and business and, on the other, organized
crime. The revelations came when a former drug king
testified in a US lawsuit against Fabio Lobo, the son of
former President Lobo. According to the drug king "Don
Leo" - who surrendered to US authorities and reportedly
testified in exchange for protection for his family -
both Porfirio and Fabio Lobo must have received bribes
from the drug cartel Los Cachiros. Fabio Lobo was
sentenced in September 2017 to 24 years in prison in the
United States for his involvement in drug dealing. Don
Leo also accused the president's brother, Congressman
Juan Antonio (Tony) Hernández, of receiving bribes. Tony
Hernández was arrested in the US in the fall of 2018 and
also charged with drug and weapons offenses. During the
trial, prosecutors claimed he received millions of
dollars from drug kings, on his brother's behalf, the
president. He was sentenced by the court and runs the
risk of a long prison sentence (seeCalendar).
In September 2019, Porfirio Lobo's wife Rosa Elena
Bonilla was also sentenced to 58 years in prison for
defrauding public funds that would have gone to poor
children, among other things (see Calendar).