Though it has its own troubled history with human rights domestically and is currently battling a crime epidemic in which police and the armed forces have been implicated in violations of human rights, internationally the government of Honduras remains a steadfast supporter of democratic and human rights norms. In the UNHRC’s UPR process Honduras has consistently raised political and human rights concerns and is cooperative in addressing the concerns of other countries. And in the regional system, Honduras has supported the series of votes expressing concern over the deterioration of democracy in Venezuela and is a cooperative member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.  

Below is a breakdown of Honduras’ actions and votes at the various venues we are monitoring. For more information click on each title and summary.


Freedom House   
Freedom Status  Partly Free
Aggregate Score (100 is perfect freedom and protection of rights) 45
Political Rights (scores out of 40, with 40 being the best)  19
Civil Liberties (scores out of 60, with 60 being the best)  26
Reporters Without Borders  
       World Press Freedom Index 48.2
Transparency International  
Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 24/100
Global Rank 157/180
World Justice Project  [1]  
Rule-of-Law Index  0.40
Regional rank  27/30
Global rank 116/128
UN Human Development Index  
 Human Development Index (HDI) 0.634
 Global rank 132
Americas Quarterly [2] (last report 2016)  
Social Inclusion Index 63.21/100
Regional rank  14/15

United Nations System:

United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC or Council)

Honduras has never been on the Council.

UNHRC’s Universal Periodic Review

As part of its mandate to promote human rights around the globe, the UNHRC has instituted a Universal Periodic Review, where, once every four years, each country’s human rights record is examined. Other countries are invited to review the record and make comments and suggestions for improvement. The country under review then acknowledges each comment by either “accepting” the comment, meaning typically that they agree to focus on, or “noting” it, indicating that they disagree and will not be focusing on improvements in this area.

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As recipient: Honduras received 182 recommendations. Accepted 151, noted 31. (only select topics listed below)

Area Received Accepted Noted
Civil society  5 5  –
Elections  –  –  –
Enforced disappearances  –  –  –
Extrajudicial executions  1  1  –
Freedom of association and peaceful assembly  –  –  –
Freedom of opinion and expression  2  1  1
Freedom of religion and belief  1  1  –
Freedom of press  26  26  –
Human rights defenders  27  27  –
Human rights violations by state agents  3  3  –
Impunity  7  7  –
Indigenous peoples  8  8  –
Internally displaced persons  –  –  –
International instruments  33  8  25
Justice  42  40  2
Migrants  8  8  –
Minorities  8  8  –
Racial discrimination  7  7  –
Sexual orientation and gender identity  8  6  2
Torture and CID treatment  2  2  –
Women’s rights  47  31  16
Total 139 108 31

Note: some comments are classified under multiple categories.

As commenter: Honduras is an active participant in the UPR process, with 228 comments made so far in the 2nd cycle (for data available). Out of the comments Honduras has made, 28.5% made towards other Latin American countries, but consistently made 2-5 comments for most countries around the globe. Papua New Guinea (7), Sudan (8), Suriname (8), and Swaziland (9) received the most comments from Honduras.

Main topics of comments included: international instruments (100 comments), migrants (53), right of the child (53), labor (46), and women’s rights (43).

Note: This data is for the 2nd cycle of the UPR. However, the final round of countries were reviewed in November/December 2016, and that data is not yet available to include in our analysis here.[/expandableContent]

UN NGO Committee

Honduras has not been on the Committee since at least 1993.

Inter-American System:

OAS Permanent Council

Under the new leadership of Secretary General Luis Almagro, the OAS has re-found its focus on promoting democracy around the region. This was shown most clearly in a meeting in June 2016 where Almagro presented his report on the state of democracy in Venezuela and proposed invoking the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

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In June 2016, Secretary General Luis Almagro presented his report laying out the evidence on how and why it was necessary to invoke the Inter-American Democratic Charter in Venezuela. Honduras voted in favor of the procedural issue of the agenda and whether Almagro should present his report at all. That vote succeeded, with Honduras joining the majority to allow Almagro to present his findings.

During the 2017 OAS General Assembly, Honduras  voted in favor of a resolution that urged the Maduro regime not to convene a constituent assembly that would rewrite the Venezuelan constitution. Despite the efforts of Honduras and its allies to pass this resolution, it did not receive the number of votes needed.


Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR or Commission)

While Honduras does not contribute financially to the IACHR, it has been a cooperative member of the human rights body, sending representatives to the majority of the meetings and complying with recommendations.

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Hearing Issue Score
175th Violations of the Human Rights of Persons Deprived of Their Liberty in Honduras
173rd Violencia y Seguridad en el Contexto de las Protestas Sociales en Honduras
171st Situation of Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Honduras
170th PM-112-16: Berta Cáceres – Honduras
169th Situation of Persons Criminalized and Deprived of Liberty During the Post-electoral Conflict in Honduras and Rights of Internally Displaced Persons in Honduras
168th Human Rights and the Selection of the Public Prosecutor in Honduras
164th Human Rights Situation of Children in Contexts of Violence in Honduras 2.3/3
 161st General Human Rights Situation in Honduras 3/3
 161st Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders in Honduras 3/3
 159th Follow-up on protection mechanism for human rights defenders in Honduras 2/3
159th Justice situation and human rights defenders in Honduras 2/3
 159th Situation of indigenous peoples and the right to consultation in Honduras 2/3
 157th /158th Human Rights Situation in Bajo Aguán, Honduras   2.5/3
 157th /158th Human Rights Situation of LGBT Persons in Honduras   2.5/3

Voluntary financial contributions to IACHR (as of Sept. 16, 2016) 

Year Contributions by Honduras Percentage of Total
Contributions to IACHR


Electoral Missions

Honduras has had ten OAS missions to monitor their elections. The most recent OAS mission monitored the 2013 general election. There have also been electoral missions in 2012, 2008, 2005, 2001, 1997, 1993, 1989, and 1963.

Freedom of Information Laws

Since 2000 the right to information and freedom of information laws have expanded across the region. However, the existence of the laws on the books does not necessarily mean full enforcement.

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Signatory/Participant in MESICIC* Yes
Constitutional protection* No
Specific law enacted* Yes- enacted in 2006
Is there a presumption of right* No
Scope/Exceptions/Overrides* requestors don’t have a right to information; only need to provide description of the material requested; scope and extent is vague.
Received information under FOIA law?** 64%
Received information within a week?** 44%
Received the appropriate information?** 41%

*Data taken from the Global Right to Information ratings, provided by the Center for Law and Democracy. 
**Information from the 2015 World Justice Project Open Government Index


Women’s Rights:

Protecting women against gender-based violence is a human rights issue often overlooked globally even though it crosses social, economic and national boundaries. And according to the United Nations Population Fund, gender-based violence undermines the health, security, dignity, and autonomy of its victims. Although 16 countries in Latin America had modified their laws to include a specific type of crime referring to the murder of women by 2015, they are not uniformly implemented, and practices to convict perpetrators of gender-based violence are still extremely weak. A 2016 report published by the Small Arms Survey found that Latin America and the Caribbean is home to 14 of the 25 countries with the highest rates of femicide in the world.  

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At a female homicide rate of 13.4 per women, Honduras has the third highest rate of femicide in the world and the second highest in Latin America. In 2013, Article 118-A of the criminal code recognizes femicide as a man killing a woman for reasons of gender, with hatred and contempt for her status as a woman. Although this law was set in place, Honduras remains a dangerous place for women. Much of the gender-based violence Honduran women face is due to sexist “machismo” culture of gangs and crime. Besides murder, there are high levels of rape, assault and domestic violence. Impunity is also a major contributor to femicide. In 2014, the United Nations reported that 95 percent of sexual violence and femicide cases were never investigated.


Indigenous rights:

7.8 percent of the population in Latin America, roughly 41,813,039 people, identify as indigenous, 49 percent of them live in urban areas and 51 percent live in rural areas.

The Labour Organization’s Convention 169 (ILO 169)

The Labour Organization’s Convention 169 (ILO169)—which has the status of an international treaty—establishes the right of indigenous and tribal peoples to be consulted when a policy or project affects their culture or heritage through what is commonly called “previous and informed consent.” The vaguely worded treaty has been a point of contention in some countries, among governments, investors and communities; and progress in implementing it has been uneven. The Convention has been interpreted, in particular, as applying to issues of national resource extraction and infrastructure development that affect communal lands. In Latin America 16 countries have signed ILO 169.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People’s (UNDRIP)

Adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2007, all Latin American countries, except Colombia, which abstained, voted in favor of this declaration. The only four countries to initially reject this declaration were the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. While it is not a legally binding instrument, it is an “important standard” for the treatment of indigenous people. The declaration sets out the collective and individual rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education, and other issues. It prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development. The end goal is to encourage countries to work alongside indigenous communities to solve global issues, like development, multicultural democracy and decentralization.

American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People

In 2016, the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) approved the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples after a long negotiation of 17 years. The declaration recognizes the collective organization and multicultural character of indigenous peoples, the self-identification of people who consider themselves indigenous and special protection for peoples in voluntary isolation or initial contact. However, the declaration was met with resistance by members of the indigenous community, who complained that they did not have full participation in the negotiations and that the declaration rolled back several rights recognized in UNDRIP. The declaration does not mention the right to previous and informed consultation.

Previous to the declaration, in 1990, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) had created the Office of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to devote attention to Indigenous Peoples in the Americas and to “strengthen, promote, and systemize the IACHR’s own work in this area. The current Rapporteur on the Right of Indigenous Peoples is Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli, Ambassador of Peru to Spain from 2012 to 2014 and Minister of the Office of Justice. He received a law degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru with a master’s degree in Constitutional Law and a PhD in Humanities. Former Rapporteurs include, Rose-Marie Belle Antoine a former IACHR Commissioner and Dinah Shelton an international law consultant for the World Health Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme among other organizations.

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Data from 2001 show 548,727 people or 7.2 percent of the total population are indigenous. With fifteen percent living in urban areas.

Honduras voted in favor of UNDRIP, theAmerican Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and signed ILO 169. However, Honduras has struggled to implement ILO 169. A special ILO commission called out the government’s lack of compliance, stating that in the 20 years since the government had signed the treaty (in 1995) there had been no formalized rules governing prior, free and informed consent of indigenous people. As a result, forestry, oil and gas, and hydroelectric projects appear to have violated indigenous communities’ rights to consultation and the government’s obligations under ILO 169.


[1]WJP Rule-of-Law Index measures 4 principles: 1) The government and its officials and agents as well as individuals and private entities are accountable under the law; 2) The laws are clear, publicized, stable, and just; are applied evenly; and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property and certain core human rights; 3) The process by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, fair, and efficient; 4) Justice is delivered timely by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.
[2] AQ Social Inclusion Index uses 23 different factors to measure how effectively governments are serving their citizens, regardless of race or income, and is published annually by Americas Quarterly at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas.
[3] Hearings were scored by Global Americans on a scale of 0 to 3 to evaluate government participation. 0 indicates that the government did not send any representatives to participate. If representatives were present, they were scored from 1 to 3 based on how engaged the representatives were, 1 indicating that they objected to the hearing, to the jurisdiction of the Commission to review the topic or dismissed there being any issue to discuss. A score of 3 indicates full participation of the government, including acknowledgment of the issue and its importance, the jurisdiction of the Commission to review and engagement on how this issue will be addressed going forward.
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