A State of Emergency Declared in Honduras Prisons

The Executive Branch of the Honduran Government declared a state of emergency in the Honduras prison system on Tuesday 17.12.19 after the existing administration, the National Penitentiary Institute had not been able to stop a series of violent events that occurred over recent days.

The Defence Minister, Fredy Diaz, said that all prisons will now be administered by the Armed Forces of Honduras (FFAA) together with the National Inter-Institutional Security Force – FUSINA. They will have a period of six months to create strategies and proposals that will restore tranquillity in the country’s renal centres.

In his speech, Mr Diaz praised the existing work of FUSINA in bringing the homicide rate down from 85 to 40.

He said, “For years it has been mentioned that most of the massacres that have occurred in the country are ordered by people who are deprived of their freedom.”

General German Velásquez, FUSINA Commander said “The main mission of this commission is to seek the normalization and proper functioning of the penitentiary system, we will identify the problems in personnel, technology and infrastructure so that everything works properly. ”  

He explained “For us, having control of prisons is extremely important because crime is reduced outside, as was the case with the closure of the San Pedro Sula criminal centre, which reduced homicides in the northern part of the country.

Retired Colonel, Agustin Avelar, said that in the penal centres there is a power struggle between, drug cartels,  drug trafficking, organized crime and the gangs that fight for power.

José Domingo Meza, the spokesman for the Armed Forces, said that through the work carried out in conjunctions with the other institutions, answers will be given to solve the situation that has been occurring in the prisons.

According to Meza, 21,629 people are currently in prison, of which 9,052 have been convicted and 11,199 have been prosecuted.

The representative of the Association for a Fairer Society (ASJ), Omar Rivera, stressed that “the mere fact of recognizing that there is an emergency and requesting support from two solid and prestigious institutions in the country, the Armed Forces and the National Police is an important step.”

Rivera said that the good performance of the intervening board will depend on three fundamental elements such as transparency, accountability and citizen participation.

The military assigned to the mission of the penal centres are professionals trained in human rights under the command of the Armed Forces and the Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA)

General German Velásquez, FUSINA Commander said, “The commission in a short term will identify and recommend solutions to be put into practice to improve since the prison population is more than 22 thousand deprived of liberty, the inmates are overcrowded this causes weakness in the system, for this is a hopeful mission.”

He pointed out that “We are also going to focus on training personnel to have a conscious and committed resource because we are not going to deal with angels but with criminals with high profile and leadership, so it is important to have them controlled to reduce crime abroad”

“Then other institutions will be incorporated to form commissions composed of medical psychologists engineers according to the needs that are required to serve the population in the prisons.”

“The task will always be framed in the respect of the Human Rights (Human Rights) of those deprived of liberty and in compliance with international treaties, the doors will be open for human rights organizations.”