[JURIST] A UN humans rights expert on Friday urged [press release] the government of Honduras to increase its efforts to put a stop to an “internal displacement epidemic” caused by organized and gang violence throughout the country, as well as a failing criminal justice system. Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Chaloka Beyani [official profile] said at the end of his first official visit to Honduras that internal displacement is an “invisible epidemic” that affects entire communities touched by the violence, most notably children and young people. He stated:
Children are recruited by gangs and used to carry drugs or weapons or as “flags” or lookouts. Parents feel that the only option to escape the influence and threats of gangs and crime is to leave their homes and eventually their country. … It was evident to me after visiting centres for returned migrants in San Pedro Sula and Omoa that the protection measures that currently exist, while positive, are wholly inadequate to meet protection needs of those at risk, particularly of those who were internally displaced by criminal gangs prior to fleeing Honduras.
He further noted that women and young girls are extremely susceptible to this, as they experience threats, intimidation and sexual violence as a weapon of control by gang members as well as threats to their family members.
Honduras has been experiencing unrest throughout the country for some time now. Earlier this month UN human rights expert Victoria Tauli-Corpuz expressed [JURIST report] concern about the situation faced by the indigenous people of Honduras, specifically in connection with their land and natural resource rights, their lack of access to justice, education and health, and the general environment of violence and impunity affecting their communities. In October Honduran Congressional Vice President Lena Gutierrez began her trial [JURIST report] for her role in the nation’s recent medical sale scandal. The charges include falsification of public documents and fraud against the government by drug sales to the Ministry of Health. In June thousands of protesters marched [JURIST report] in Honduras on calling for the resignation of President Juan Hernandez and demanding an independent investigation into his role in an ongoing corruption scandal.