Reform to address serious deficiencies in Honduran prison system

Monday, May 21, 2012

On May 9th Honduras National Congress passed the Prison System Act, a fundamental and necessary step to reform the Honduran prison system. The establishment of the National Penitentiary Institute and the creation of a specialized and professional prison staff career, properly selected and trained, to replace the police custody, had already been the subject of recommendations by international treaty bodies and Honduran human rights organizations.

After their recent visit to Honduras, the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture of the United Nations stressed their concern that most of the recommendations made to the country in 2009 have not been yet been complied with and that the Honduran prisons still suffers from serious overpopulation and overcrowding.  This statement reaffirms the findings of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty of the InterAmerican Human Rights Commission, who days earlier had stated that Honduran prisons suffer from serious structural deficiencies that lead to violation of human rights – failure to provide adequate food and drinking water, lack of adequate medical care and deplorable conditions of hygiene and sanitation.

In addition, international experts noted their grave concern for the neglect of the prisons administration by national authorities and for the de facto delegation of internal control and discipline to prison inmates, known as "coordinators", a situation which generates high levels of violence and corruption within a context of absolute impunity.

The APT urges the Honduran State to fully comply with the recommendations issued by international and regional human rights bodies and to promptly implement the new Prison System Act by creating of the National Penitentiary Institute and establishing a specialized civil professional prison staff career.