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Honduras: UN human rights expert calls for urgent action to address impunity for crimes against women and girls

GENEVA (10 July 2014) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Rashida Manjoo, Tuesday urged the new Government of Honduras to address the culture of widespread impunity for crimes against women and girls, following an eight-day visit to the country.

“In Honduras, violence against women is widespread and systematic, and impacts women and girls in numerous ways,” stressed the Special Rapporteur, adding that during her mission she noted “scores of concerns as regards the high levels of domestic violence, femicide and sexual violence.”

Noting that Honduras is currently in a state of transition, the Special Rapporteur welcomed “current attempts to build institutions; foster trust and confidence in the new government set up in January 2014; and address the climate of widespread and systematic crime, corruption and impunity.”

In particular, she welcomed the legislative, policy and programmatic measures taken by the Government to fight violence against women, including the recent amendments to the Penal Code to incorporate femicide as a specific crime.

However Manjoo noted that incidents of violence against women appear to be on the rise, with an increase of 263.4 percent in the number of violent deaths of women between 2005 and 2013. Regrettably, without accurate, reliable and uncontested data, it is impossible to grasp the magnitude of violence against women in Honduras and to develop appropriate policies and responses to address it, she said.

Trafficking in persons for sexual exploitation purposes is also underreported in Honduras, mainly due the hidden nature of the crime and also the prevalence of organized crime.

During her mission, the Special Rapporteur identified persisting and significant challenges in addressing violence against women, including the lack of effective implementation of legislation, gender discrimination in the justice system, inconsistencies in the interpretation and implementation of legislation, and the lack of access to services that promote safety and help prevent future acts of violence.

The lack of accountability for acts of violence against women and girls also remains a major obstacle, Manjoo said. It is reported that there is a 95 percent impunity rate for sexual violence and femicide crimes.

The independent expert also stressed the need for women’s empowerment and social transformation to address the pervasive, systematic and widespread manifestations of violence against women and girls.
She underlined that the State has a responsibility to hold accountable State authorities who fail to protect and prevent the violations of women’s human rights, due to a lack of response or due to ineffective responses. “The best interests of all women and girls should guide the response of the Honduran Government,” she concluded.  

During her visit, the Special Rapporteur met with government authorities and representatives of the civil society in Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, and La Ceiba.

The Special Rapporteur’s comprehensive findings will be discussed in the report to be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2015.

(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=14833&LangID=E
Ms. Rashida Manjoo(South Africa) was appointed Special Rapporteur on Violence against women, its causes and consequences in June 2009 by the UN Human Rights Council. As Special Rapporteur, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Ms. Manjoo is a Professor in the Department of Public Law of the University of Cape Town. For more information, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Women/SRWomen/Pages/SRWomenIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Honduras: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/LACRegion/Pages/HNIndex.aspx

For press inquiries and additional information, please contact:
In Tegucigalpa: Vincenzo Placco (+504 2220 1100 Ext 1221 / vincenzo.placco@undp.org)
In Geneva: Mariannick Koffi (+41 229179257 / mkoffi@ohchr.org)or write to vaw@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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