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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                

Republic of Honduras

In response to widespread violence, the government has empowered the Military Police of Public Order (PMOP) and other security forces to combat security threats, and these units often employ excessive force when conducting security operations.

Prisons are overcrowded and underequipped, and many inmates are pretrial detainees.

[Freedom House Country Report, 2018]

Description: Description: Description: Honduras

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Honduras.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Honduras

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 22 July 2021]


The Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH) reported 28 cases of alleged torture by security forces through September, while the Public Ministry received three such reports. The quasi-governmental National Committee for the Prevention of Torture, Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment (CONAPREV) received 210 complaints of the use of torture or cruel and inhuman treatment, many related to the enforcement of the national curfew during the COVID-19 pandemic. COFADEH reported police beat and smeared a tear gas-covered cloth on the face of an individual detained for violating the national curfew in April in El Paraiso.


Prison conditions were harsh and sometimes life-threatening due to pervasive gang-related violence and the government’s failure to control criminal activity within the prisons. Prisoners suffered from overcrowding, insufficient access to food and water, violence, and alleged abuse by prison officials.


Pretrial Detention: Judicial inefficiency, corruption, and insufficient resources delayed proceedings in the criminal justice system, and lengthy pretrial detention was a serious problem. For crimes with minimum sentences of six years’ imprisonment, the law authorizes pretrial detention of up to two years. The prosecution may request an additional six-month extension, but many detainees remained in pretrial detention much longer, including for more time than the maximum period of incarceration for their alleged crime. The law does not authorize pretrial detention for crimes with a maximum sentence of five years or less. The law mandates that authorities release detainees whose cases have not yet come to trial and whose time in pretrial detention already exceeds the maximum prison sentence for their alleged crime. Even so, many prisoners remained in custody after completing their full sentences, and sometimes even after an acquittal, because officials failed to process their releases expeditiously.

Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 12 May 2020]


In response to widespread violence, the government has empowered the Military Police of Public Order (PMOP) and other security forces to combat security threats, and these units often employ excessive force when conducting security operations.

Prisons are overcrowded and underequipped, and many inmates are pretrial detainees. Prison violence remains rampant due in large part to the presence of gangs.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


POLICE ABUSES AND CORRUPTION - The unlawful use of force by police is a chronic problem. According to a report by the Observatory on Violence at the National Autonomous University of Honduras, police killed 149 people between 2011 and 2012. Then-Commissioner of the Preventative Police Alex Villanueva affirmed the report’s findings and said there were likely many more killings by police that were never reported.

USE OF MILITARY IN PUBLIC SECURITY OPERATIONS - In August, soldiers detained Marco Medrano Lemus close to his home in La Lima, Cortés. According to local press accounts, he was found dead shortly thereafter and an autopsy showed signs he had been tortured. Eight soldiers were arrested in relation to the incident, and investigations were continuing at time of writing.

ATTACKS ON JOURNALISTS - Journalists in Honduras continue to suffer threats, attacks, and killings. Authorities consistently fail to investigate and prosecute these crimes. More than 30 journalists have been murdered since 2009, according to the National Human Rights Commission (CONADEH), though the motive in many of the cases has not been determined.

HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS - Human rights defenders continue to be subject to violence, threats, and killings. In May, José Guadalupe Ruelas, director of international children’s charity, Casa Alianza, which has criticized authorities for failing to protect children from organized crime, was arbitrarily detained and violently beaten by military police. He was released the next day after local human rights organizations intervened on his behalf.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/HND/CO/1 (2009)

[accessed 1 March 2013]

Pretrial detention

14. While noting the progress made by the State party since the adoption of the new Code of Criminal Procedure in abolishing the obligatory pretrial detention and establishing the “juez de ejecución”, whose mandate is to monitor the legality of remand detention, the Committee is very concerned at reports of frequent ill-treatment and torture, excessive use of force on arrest, as well as acts of extortion by law enforcement officials and at the persistent high numbers of detainees, both children and adults, in prolonged pretrial detention. It further expresses concern at the various forms of derogations from the general rule for the duration of pretrial detention. The Committee regrets the lack of use, in practice, of alternatives to imprisonment (arts. 2, 11 and 16).

The State party should take effective measures to send a clear and unambiguous message to all levels of the law enforcement hierarchy that torture, ill- treatment, excessive use of force and extortion are unacceptable, and ensure that law enforcement officials only use force when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duties. The State party should further take appropriate measures to increase the number of “jueces de ejecución”, to further reduce the duration of remand detention and derogations thereof, as well as detention before charges are brought. The Committee also urges the State party to implement alternatives to deprivation of liberty, including probation, mediation, community service or suspended sentences

Impunity and absence of prompt, thorough and impartial investigations

20. The Committee notes with concern the existence of widespread impunity, acknowledged even by the State party, as one of the main reasons for its failure to eradicate torture. It is particularly concerned at the absence of an independent body to investigate allegations of ill-treatment and torture. The Committee is concerned at reports of several cases of serious allegations against members of the National Police that remain at the investigation stage and for which perpetrators have not effectively been brought to justice and at reports that alleged perpetrators continue exercising their duties. Moreover, the Committee is concerned at the killing of two environmentalists, whose perpetrators escaped from prison after being sentenced, and at the absence of any investigation or conviction of the instigators of the crime (arts. 12, 13 and 16).

The Committee urges the State party to take swift measures to counter impunity, including by:

(a) Ensuring prompt, thorough, impartial and effective investigations into all allegations of torture and ill-treatment committed by law enforcement officials. In particular, such investigations should not be undertaken by or under the authority of the police, but by an independent body. In connection with prima facie cases of torture and ill-treatment, the alleged suspect should as a rule be subject to suspension or reassignment during the process of investigation, especially if there is a risk that he or she might impede the investigation;

(b) Bringing the perpetrators to justice and imposing appropriate sentences on those convicted in order to eliminate impunity for law enforcement personnel who are responsible for violations prohibited by the Convention;

(c) Ensuring that an investigation is lodged against the instigators of the murder of the two environmentalists and that they are sentenced accordingly once identified. Furthermore, the State party should thoroughly investigate the escape from prison of the convicted perpetrators, ensure that they serve their sentence according to their conviction and, in general, take measures to prevent further escapes.

Human Rights in Honduras

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 31 January 2013]

[accessed 31 December 2017]

Law enforcement officials committed widespread human rights violations under the de facto government that took power after the 2009 military coup. Impunity for post-coup abuses remains a serious problem, despite the government’s establishment of a truth commission in May 2010 to examine events surrounding the coup, and efforts by prosecutors at the human rights unit in the attorney general’s office to investigate abuses.

Journalists, human rights defenders, political activists, and transgender people face violence and threats. Those responsible for these abuses are rarely held to account.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015


Levels of violent crime remained high and continued to dominate the political agenda. Attempts were made by the government to purge the police in response to allegations of abuses and corruption, such as police involvement and complicity in killings, such as those of two university students in 2011.


Human rights defenders continued to be subjected to intimidation, physical attack and were even killed because of their work.

Campesino community leaders and human rights defenders involved in representing campesino communities in the context of the continuing land disputes in Bajo Aguán were subjected to threats and attacks.

In September, human rights lawyer Antonio Trejo Cabrera died after being shot five times by gunmen in the capital, Tegucigalpa. Antonio Trejo had been representing three peasant co-operatives and had helped farmers to regain legal rights to land. He had been scheduled to travel to the USA to take part in hearings at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights about the ongoing land dispute. He reported receiving death threats during the year. By the end of 2012 no one had been held to account for his killing.

Bertha Oliva and Nohemí Pérez of the Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras, COFADEH) received verbal threats in March and April.

In February, Dina Meza, also a COFADEH worker, received text and telephone threats, including one which said, “We’ll burn your pussy with lime until you scream and the whole squad will enjoy it... CAM”. The name of the group (CAM, Comando Álvarez Martinez) refers to a general in the Honduran armed forces (1982-1984) who has been linked by human rights groups to paramilitary death squads at a time of grave human rights abuses.


For current articles:: Search Amnesty International Website

[accessed 2 January 1, 2019]

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Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 31 January 2013]

[accessed 4 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – Although the law prohibits such practices, there were instances in which government officials employed them, including police beatings and other abuse of detainees.

On July 30, in Renaciedo juvenile correctional center, authorities detained and allegedly beat Herlan Fabricio Ramirez Colindres, a 16-year-old gang member suspected of committing several violent crimes, including the killing of DEA agent Michael Marke. Authorities reportedly left Ramirez handcuffed for more than 24 hours. Human rights activists protested the treatment of Ramirez and other minors held at the same detention center.

Regarding the cases of those accused of the 1982 illegal detention and torture of six students, on April 12, the case of retired Captain Billy Fernando Joya Amendola was appealed to a higher court, but the courts continued to deny appeals by the Public Ministry to reinstate his arrest warrant. The Public Ministry's appeal of the dismissal of charges in 2004 against retired Colonel Juan Evangelista Lopez Grijalba remained pending. At year's end Lopez Grijalba remained free on bail.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Honduras",, [accessed <date>]