2013 - Juan Orlando Hernandez
Honduras is a constitutional, multiparty republic. Juan Orlando Hernandez won the presidency on 24 November 2013 in an election that international observers generally recognized as transparent, credible, and reflected the will of the Honduran electorate. Civilian authorities failed at times to maintain effective control over the security forces. Members of security forces committed human rights abuses and were turned over to the civilian justice system. Among the most serious human rights problems were corruption, intimidation, and institutional weakness of the justice system leading to widespread impunity; unlawful and arbitrary killings by security forces, organized criminal elements, and others; and harsh and at times life-threatening prison conditions.
Pervasive societal violence persisted. There continued to be reports of killings in rural areas, including the Bajo Aguan region, of indigenous people, agricultural workers, bystanders, private security guards, and security forces related to land disputes, infrastructure development projects, organized crime, and other factors. Other human rights problems included violence against detainees; lengthy pretrial detentions and failure to provide due process of law; threats against journalists; corruption in government; violence against and harassment of women; child prostitution and abuse; trafficking in persons; encroachment on indigenous lands and discrimination against indigenous and Afro-descendent communities; violence against and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons; ineffective enforcement of labor laws; and child labor.
Ousted Zelaya's Liberal Party was split into pro-coup and anti-coup camps, and the latter later joined him and grassroots resistance movements in forming an opposition party, LIBRE. But it was defeated in the 2013 elections by National Party candidate Hernandez.
In 2013 Juan Orlando Hernandez of the National Party won a four-year presidential term in elections that were generally transparent and credible. Some NGOs reported irregularities, including cards offering retail discounts issued near voting stations by the National Party, problems with the voter rolls, buying and selling of electoral worker credentials, and lack of transparency in campaign financing. International observers acknowledged some of these irregularities but reported they were not systematic and not widespread enough to affect the outcome of the presidential election. Observers noted several significant improvements in transparency procedures, including the use of electronic scanning and transmission of vote tally sheets, and the distribution of national identification cards by the National Registry of Persons rather than by political parties. President Hernandez admitted in June that an investigation into corruption at the Social Security Institute had revealed that contributors to his 2013 campaign included companies linked to the corruption scandal.
During the year’s general election campaigns, the National Observatory of Violence at the National Autonomous University recorded 10 homicides, eight attempted homicides, and five threats against local and national candidates, local politicians, and political party leaders as of July. Motives for the crimes remained unclear.
During his first term, Hernandez had implemented a more business-friendly and conservative political platform encouraging investments and modernising the country’s economy. In three years, his government was able to divide the fiscal deficit by three and reduce the number of homicides by close to 50 percent.
The law requires that a minimum of 40 percent of candidates from each party for national election be women. During the year women held 25 of 128 seats in the National Congress, and 30 women were alternate members. Five women sat on the 15-member executive board of congress, and eight presided over congressional committees. The most senior of three presidential designates in the government, with status equivalent to that of a vice president, was a woman. There were six female cabinet members: the secretaries of state for the presidency, foreign affairs, justice and human rights, tourism, youth, and social development. The runner-up in the November 24 presidential election was a woman.
The National Congress had one Miskito community member and one Afro-Honduran member. Both the cabinet-level secretary of state for indigenous and Afro-Honduran affairs and the secretary of state for culture were Afro-Honduran.
In February 2013 authorities charged Hector Guillen, former finance minister and member of the National Congress, with abusing his authority as a public official and committing fraud against the state. More than 1.14 million lempiras ($57,000) of undeclared money was seized from his wife’s vehicle in July 2012, and an investigation revealed he had leased six government-run shrimp farms at below-market prices for personal gain while finance minister. In July the Supreme Court ordered a provisional stay for Guillen’s case. In July 2013 authorities arrested two Ministry of Health officials in connection with the theft of medical supplies valued at approximately 50 million lempiras ($2.5 million). As of October the Public Ministry was investigating 27 officials, including 22 prosecutors, on charges related to fraud and personal enrichment via their professional duties.
A widespread public perception remained that the anticorruption institutions did not take sufficient steps to contain corruption and were unwilling or lacked the professional capacity and resources to investigate, arrest, and prosecute those involved in high-level corruption. Transparency International expressed particular concern regarding corruption in the judiciary and security forces.
The Committee for Free Expression (C-Libre) reported that nine journalists and social communicators had been killed during the year as of the end of September 2015. CONADEH reported that a total of 17 journalists, social commentators, and owners and employees of media outlets were killed during 2014 and the first six months of 2015. There also were multiple reports of intimidation of members of the media and their families. CONADEH noted many cases in which journalists, social communicators, and media organizations reported being victims of threats and persecution during the year. Some journalists reported threats by members of organized crime. It was unclear whether these killings and threats were motivated by the victims’ status as journalists or were simply products of generalized violence. Government officials at all levels denounced violence and threats of violence against members of the media and social communicators. The HNP’s Human Rights Office continued to implement protective measures for journalists, social communicators, human rights defenders, labor leaders, fieldworker representatives, and members of the LGBTI community who received threats. Some NGOs criticized the measures as ineffective due to the limited number of persons protected and the limited resources provided to the protected persons.
Emmigration numbers soared since President Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH) entered office in 2014. Some 22,186 Hondurans sought legal asylum in the U.S. in 2016. The following year, 3,791 homicides were registered in the nation that now has a 70 percent poverty rate. Under Zelaya, extreme poverty shrank by over 20 percent. JOH was declared president again in November 2017 in an election international observers said was wrought with “irregularities.” In response to protests for his removal, national security forces sent over 200 demonstrators to the hospital and at least 31 protesters were killed.
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