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Committee on the Rights of the Child reviews the reports of Honduras

21 May 2015

The Committee on the Rights of the Child today concluded its consideration of the combined fourth and fifth periodic report of Honduras on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and its two initial reports under the Optional Protocols on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and on the involvement of children in armed conflict.

Introducing the reports, Edna Yolani Batres Cruz, Minister of Health of Honduras, said that the Directorate for Children, Youth and Family was established in 2014 with a mandate to coordinate laws, policies, plans and strategies at the central and local levels. In order to address the emergence of migratory flows of unaccompanied minors towards North America, Honduras had offered a series of services for minors and households to return to their places of origin. Human trafficking was addressed by the 2012 Law against Human Trafficking which had created an Inter-institutional Commission against commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking and a Strategy for the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy had been put in place.

Committee Experts took positive note of the comprehensive reform of the legislation in the matter of children and adolescents undertaken in 2012, but expressed concern about the capacity of institutions to effectively implement the reforms and provide a sustained investment in education, health and childhood development. Experts were very concerned about the high levels of violence that existed in the country, about the worrisome rates of homicide of children and adolescents, and about substance abuse among children. They asked about measures adopted to address the high level of extreme poverty, high rates of malnutrition and prevalent hazardous child labour among indigenous and Afro-descendant children, and about plans to reform the law and decriminalize abortion. The ongoing migration of minors, particularly unaccompanied children, was a great source of concern, and Experts inquired about measures undertaken to prevent children from leaving the country, assist them in finding their families, and protect them from trafficking and exploitation of all types.

Responding to the questions raised during the dialogue on the Convention on the Right of the Child, the delegation said that it was in the process of setting up a permanent institutional structure for the protection of children and adolescents within the mandate of the Directorate for Children, Youth and Family. Efforts were being undertaken to stop young people from joining maras (gangs), which aimed at providing opportunities and skills, reclaiming public spaces for youth and establishing community leisure centres. The push factors leading to the migration of children and adolescents included economic opportunities, family reunification, escaping violence and insecurity in both the family and community, and educational opportunities. Honduras had intensified the work on addressing the root causes of migration since July 2014, strengthening cooperation with poor communities, rolling out job creation programmes and shoring up social protection systems, while pinpointing those municipalities that had seen highest frequencies of emigration. There was no intention to reform the law and decriminalize abortion.

Concerning the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, the Committee noted the absence of a strategy to prevent the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, including addressing root causes of poverty and stigmatization of segments of the population, and asked whether the Government intended to undertake a study into the problem to ascertain its dimensions and develop a programme to address it. Noting the close relationship between exploitation and massive movements of people, Experts raised concern about the very high number of trafficked children in Honduras, noting that up to 500 children victims of trafficking returned by land routes from Mexico every week.

With regard to the involvement of children in armed conflict, the Committee Experts expressed concern about the discrepancy between the national legislation and the Optional Protocol with regard to the minimum age of recruitment and the absence of the prohibition of the involvement of children in armed conflict. The recruitment of children by maras was a source of concern, as was the fact that some 70 per cent of homicides of children were committed by other children; what was being done to address this problem and to criminalize and prosecute armed gangs?

The delegation confirmed the universal jurisdiction of Honduras for crimes defined by international instruments, including those defined by the Convention and its Optional Protocols. Children victims of assault and children witnesses to a crime enjoyed protective status, and there were approved means enabling children to give evidence in courts via one-way mirrors, or audio or video recordings. Investigations of cases of human trafficking and prosecution of perpetrators were on the increase; in 2014 police and military officers and public officials were charged in court for sexual exploitation and trafficking in persons for the first time. The new Constitution prohibited the sale of arms, ammunition and explosives to persons under the age of 21. The volume of arms in circulation was a source of great concern and Honduras was committed to limiting access to weapons for children and youth.

Renate Winter, Committee Rapporteur on the report under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, said that the Committee was aware of the difficult situation in Honduras at the moment and expressed hope that its recommendations would contribute to addressing two of the most pressing problems, that of illicit migration and trafficking in children.

Hatem Kotrane, Committee Rapporteur on the report under the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, noted that Honduras needed to address the lack of clarity concerning the involvement of children in armed conflict in times of war, access of children to weapons, and physical and social rehabilitation of children involved with armed State and non-State groups.

In her closing remarks, Ms. Bates Cruz said that the new Government was working very hard to bring about a new and different Honduras for its children to live in. The overarching vision of all institutions working with children was to provide children with love and tenderness.

The delegation of Honduras consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Health, Directorate for Children, Youth and Family, Congress, Supreme Court of Justice, Commission for Family, Children, Youth and Adults, Ministry for Human Rights and Justice, Public Ministry, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Ministry of Education, and the Permanent Mission of Honduras to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The next public meeting of the Committee will be at 10 a.m. on Friday, 22 May, to consider the combined fourth and fifth periodic report of Ethiopia under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC/C/ETH/4-5).

Reports

The combined fourth and fifth periodic report of Honduras under the Convention on the Rights of the Child can be read via the following link: (CRC/C/HND/4-5), the initial report under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography can be found here: (CRC/C/OPSC/HND/1), and the initial report under the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict is accessible via this link: (CRC/C/OPAC/HND/1).

Presentation of the Report

EDNA YOLANI BATRES CRUZ, Minister of Health of Honduras, introducing the report, said that in June 2014 a Directorate for Children, Youth and Family was established with a mandate to coordinate laws, policies, plans and strategies at the central and local levels. Almost 20 per cent of the total public investment went into child and youth care, representing 8.5 per cent of the gross domestic product. Progress had been made in reducing child mortality, from 34 per 1,000 live births in 2006 to 24 per 1,000 live births. During the period 2011 to 2015, a total of 368 deaths among children under the age of 18 had been registered, of which 305 were being investigated and 37 had been tried, and since 2012, the judiciary had prioritized investigation and prosecution of murders of children. Honduras had addressed the emergence of migratory flows of unaccompanied minors towards North America and offered a series of services for minors and households to return to their places of origin. Trafficking in persons and the trafficking of children and girls was addressed by the 2012 Law against Human Trafficking and the provision of resources from the national budget in 2014 for its implementation. The Law against Human Trafficking had created an Inter-institutional Commission against commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking. Since the entry into force of the law, 83 trafficking cases had been registered; of those 18 were brought before the courts and sentences had been rendered in eight of those. The use of physical punishment or any form of humiliating, degrading, cruel and inhuman treatment as a form of correction or discipline of children was prohibited.

In 2015, the Directorate for Children, Youth and Family had fostered alternatives to the institutionalization of children, through the use of Families for Temporary Protection, which sought protection of children on the basis of solidarity and social responsibility, under which families were encouraged to host multiple children. A draft bill on adoption would be included in the legislative agenda in the second half of 2015. The judiciary played an important role in custody, paternity and adoption issues, and the judges of the 42 family courts received special training; the best interest of the child was the guiding principle and children had the right to be heard in proceedings. Teenage pregnancies stood at 24 per cent for those aged between 15 and 19 years of age, and a Strategy for the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy had been put in place. The recently passed Law on Social Protection had extended the coverage of social security to the children of the insured, raising the age of coverage from 12 years to 18 years of age. Honduras was firmly committed to strengthening the standard of living of children and their families, including by ensuring continuity of its 2012 social protection policy. The Platform Better Life served the population living in extreme poverty, poverty and vulnerability. It had provided cash transfer vouchers to 274,000 households, almost 19,000 families had access to opportunities for additional income, and 1,827 female heads of household had acceded micro financing opportunities.

Questions by the Committee Experts

WANDERLINO NOGUEIRA NETO, Committee Expert acting as Country Rapporteur, said that the dialogue should address outstanding problems and challenges, have strong emphasis on education, development, protection of childhood and adolescence, and address resiliency at the community level. The comprehensive reform of the legislation in the matter of children and adolescents had been undertaken in 2012, but despite the reforms, dissemination and implementation of those laws remained a problem, together with the capacity of institutions to effectively implement them. The reform of the Children’s Code removed different classifications of children and harmonized it fully with the definition of the child under the Convention, but some of the policies still referred to the outdated classification. What measures were in place to strengthen the commitment of public institutions in the implementation of the policies related to children and youth? Was there a capacity in the country to generate policies and guidelines for the implementation of specialized services and programmes, and for the transfer, oversight and control of financial resources by the bodies in charge of the direct implementation of programmes for children? Children should not be subject to charity, but there was evidence of a proliferation of social programmes which delivered charity rather than a sustained investment in education, health and other important sectors.

JOSÉ ANGEL RODRÍGUEZ REYES, Committee Expert acting as Country Rapporteur, took up the issue of violence against children and asked about measures adopted to prevent that violence and in particular to address the worrisome rates of homicide of children and adolescents. The Country Rapporteur also inquired about the role of the National Committee for the Prevention of Torture in punishing the perpetrators of violence in schools, and about the mechanism in place for outreach to and awareness raising of families on the issues of corporal punishment.

HATEM KOTRANE, Committee Expert acting as Country Rapporteur, asked about the process of the preparation of the report and the inclusion and contribution of civil society organizations therein, and about the place of the Convention in the domestic legal order.

HYND AYOUBI IDRISSI, Committee Expert acting as Country Rapporteur, raised the issue of discrimination in the country, for example between rural and urban areas, and also of poor children, indigenous and Afro-descendent children and girls, and asked what was being done to fight against discrimination in general and against girls more specifically. The Committee was very concerned about the high levels of violence that existed in the country, a leading cause of death among children and youth, and asked about measures undertaken to investigate murders, extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances, to provide reparation and compensation to victims and their families, and to fight against impunity. The Rapporteur asked the delegation to explain how it addressed poverty and extreme poverty, not only in economic and monetary terms, but addressing the multiple layers and manifestations of poverty.

The delegation was also asked about help lines, to explain the system of participation of children and adolescents in public life, and to inform about its impact.

Replies by the Delegation

Honduras sought to harmonise its legislation with the provisions of the Convention and it was understood that everyone under the age of 18 was considered a child. Local authorities were setting up Childhood Protection Boards, while the Directorate for Children, Youth and Family was providing appropriate technical support for this purpose. It had also managed to pinpoint budget allocations within the State budget and earmarked resources for programmes to ensure full enjoyment of the rights of the child. The Directorate for Children, Youth and Family acted as the central adoption agency, was responsible for juvenile justice, provided support for vulnerable children, and addressed the problem of migrant children, among others. It was seeking to remove children from institutions and encourage that children grow up in family settings.

Help lines were opened in the midst of the humanitarian crisis during the return of migrant children from the United States and Mexico. Honduras was now examining how to build a culture of complaint and how to encourage and empower the children to report on violations of their rights. Specialized lines for domestic violence already existed, and the creation of a 911 phone line was being discussed.

The new institutional structure had its strategic priority aimed at designing comprehensive policies for children and their families. The new Government was adopting new policies together with human rights policies, with the aim to not just continue policies from the previous administration, but to create very specific targets and monitoring indicators for the programmes for childhood development. Social programmes were based on the intercultural nature and focused on human rights. The Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Strategic Plan had been built in coordination with other public institutions, and was carefully coordinated and aligned with the National Human Rights Plan. One of the objectives was to strengthen the capacity of the national comprehensive system for children and families.

In 2013, with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund, the Government had identified the budgetary allocations for children; this continued to be a challenge. The solution was in setting up the permanent institutional structure, and this was currently ongoing within the mandate of the Directorate for Children, Youth and Family.

The Congress had adopted a decree in 2014 as a part of the anti-bullying law and to eradicate all forms of violence in schools. The proposed act of violence and arms sought to penalize the distribution of arms to children and criminalize the recruitment of children by gangs.

In their follow-up questions, Committee Experts asked about the impact and effect of those laws in practice, mechanisms for the involvement of children in the implementation of anti-bulling laws, and measures in place to avoid stigmatization through legislation.

The criminal offence of gang membership needed to be carefully examined against the right to freedom of association for adults. The judiciary was seeking to uphold the best interest of the child and this was present in judicial rulings. The national Congress was reviewing reforms and the relevant consultations were taking place, with the view of avoiding stigmatisation of young people, which would involve hard work. There was political commitment to reform Article 3(33) which was known as the gang article. In order to stop young people from joining mara gangs, it was important to put in place a comprehensive set of measures aiming to prevent, protect and provide opportunities and skills. To that effect, there were efforts to reclaim public spaces for youth and to establish community leisure centres. The most important thing was to provide a systemic approach to this issue, and avoid piecemeal measures and interventions.

Further Questions by the Committee Experts

An Expert asked the delegation to comment on the case of an 11-old girl, raped by a family member, denied an abortion requested by her mother, and who had died in childbirth. What was being done to address the increasing number of children and families in the streets, and to address the problem of patriarchal structures that often sent girls to the streets? What measures were in place to improve the situation of children in detention, to guarantee their right to adequate standards of health and education, and to prevent military and arbitrary detention of children?

Nearly half the children with disabilities did not attend any educational facility, noted another Expert and asked how the goal of inclusive education would be achieved by 2021. Substance abuse among children was an issue of great concern, particularly in the context of Honduras being a country through which 80 per cent of drugs used in North America moved. What measures were being adopted to address the high level of extreme poverty, high rates of malnutrition and prevalent hazardous child labour among indigenous and Afro-descent children?

A Committee Expert asked about plans to reform the law on abortion and expressed concern about the ongoing problem of migration, noting that the majority of migrant children that suffered the humanitarian crisis in 2014 were Hondurans. The Expert asked about measures undertaken to prevent children from leaving the country, assist them in finding their families, and protect them from trafficking for exploitation of all types, and wondered how the efforts to address the issue of children in migration were coordinated with the United States and Mexico?

A Committee Expert apologized to the delegation, saying that the case she had raised in the discussion yesterday, of an 11-year old girl who had been denied an abortion and died in childbirth, happened in Paraguay and not in Honduras. However, Honduras experienced similar problems, whereby very young girls were being punished for trying to have an abortion, and there were plans to increase the penalties for abortion.

JOSÉ ANGEL RODRÍGUEZ REYES, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur, asked about measures to prevent violence against children, in particular those adopted to prevent murders of children and adolescents.

Replies by the Delegation

Criminal responsibility was set at 12 years of age. Currently, no children were held in detention for abortion; there was no plan to strengthen anti-abortion laws and there would be no changes to the law on breastfeeding. All pregnant women who arrived at hospitals, as well as women who had had an abortion or miscarriage, were given adequate care according to the medical protocols. Honduras was the country with the second highest rate of teenage pregnancies, and a widespread campaign had been undertaken to prevent early pregnancies. There were clinics specifically aimed at adolescents where they could be seen without parental consent.

Experts noted that abortion was a crime in Honduras, and asked whether an abortion by a girl who got pregnant due to sexual exploitation, sexual violence or rape, was a crime. Also, what was the procedure applied in cases where pregnancy put the life of the mother in danger.

Responding, the delegation said that great efforts needed to be employed in the health care system to prevent the stigmatisation of victims of sexual exploitation and rape, and to protect children. In the law, there was no scenario in which it was legal to have an abortion, nor events or circumstances as outlined by Experts, including for pregnancies arising from incest. If the life of the mother was in danger, doctors had to decide according to medical ethics, and if pregnancy needed to be terminated, the decision must be well justified in order for the doctor to avoid criminal responsibility.

Rates of child labour were higher in rural areas, where more than 70 per cent of the 300,000 minors were working. Since 1997, Honduras had been engaged in specific targeted education programmes designed to bridge the gaps in education of indigenous and Afro-descendants; education coverage would be further extended this year. Currently 57,000 indigenous children attended 959 schools, and the delegation acknowledged that further efforts were needed to improve education of this group. It was clear that coverage in secondary education needed to be expanded as well, and the delegation recognized the decline in the education budget from more than seven per cent of the gross domestic product in 2010 to just over five percent in 2013. The National Inclusive Education Plan was in place, which comprised of a strategy for universal accessibility and the education of the society on the rights that children with disabilities should enjoy. Currently, 140 mainstream schools were organizing resource centres to provide assistance for 7,000 children with disabilities; the majority of schools providing inclusive education were under the auspices of non-governmental organizations. Progress was being made in the training of specialized teachers: a teaching degree in special education was available, as well as a number of individual courses open to all teachers.

One of the key challenges in the country was the establishment of an umbrella of organizations and institutions working on the protection of children and adolescents, which would bring together up-to-date information on how Honduras upheld the rights of the child. Lack of information was a major problem, but the social protection system had already started to pinpoint the children in need of assistance. As of today, 79,000 children with disabilities had been identified and this would enable the Government to better focus efforts and ensure inclusion of this population.

Returning migrants were registered in a single registry; upon return, they received health care and employment assistance for adults, and there was training, emergency food support and the immediate reinsertion of children into education. The number of unaccompanied migrant children in 2014 was more than 18,000 and by March 2015, only 1,500 unaccompanied minors had been registered by consular services. It was important to mention that 61 per cent of the migrant population was repatriated, of those 24 per cent were children and adolescents.

An Expert commended the creation of the Institute for Migration and asked about protocols for the identification of children at risk. Another Expert asked the delegation to explain the reasons for migration and what measures were being undertaken to address those causes.

The push factors leading to the migration of children and adolescents included economic opportunities, seeking family reunification, escaping violence and insecurity in both the family and community, and education opportunities. There was a bilateral agreement with Mexico which put migration on solid grounds and ensured respect of the human rights of migrants. Honduras was cooperating with other Governments and with international organizations to identify migratory routes and to provide care and support to migrants, including with the United States, the International Organization of Migration and the United Nations Children’s Fund. Since July 2014, Honduras had intensified the work on addressing the root causes of migration, strengthening cooperation with poor communities, rolling job creation programmes and shoring up social protection systems, while pinpointing those municipalities that had seen the highest frequencies of emigration.

Legislation on adoption was absent and Honduras was not a signatory to the Hague Convention; Congress was now engaged in the necessary preparatory work for accession to this Convention. The Directorate for Children, Youth and Family was working on bridging this significant legal gap and ensuring that adoptions were addressed in the most effective way, with the involvement of the judiciary and the child protection services. The declaration of abandonment was quite a burdensome process and efforts were ongoing to streamline this process and ensure that children grew up in a loving and caring environment, including through adoption. There were currently 22 domestic and six international adoption cases, which would be followed up by the Directorate for Children, Youth and Family.

Juvenile justice was a priority area for the Directorate for Children, Youth and Family which was following the 304 youth offenders in the system, ensuring the separation of the juvenile and adult prison population and providing adequate support and follow up to the 189 children with alternative sentences. At the moment, there were only 50 adequately trained youth protection officers in five different juvenile facilities in the country; it was important to say that persons with military or police training could not be employed in juvenile justice institutions. The law enforcement and the judiciary were responsible for the prosecution of children and youth, and the Directorate for Children, Youth and Family only had an advisory role in this process.

A campaign called Zero Beggars addressed the situation of street children and in addition to removing children from the street, looked into the families and created opportunities for the poorest families which would enable them to keep the children and prevent them from going to the streets. The campaign also addressed the forced use of children as beggars, in cooperation with the security forces, and there were efforts to support parents in discharge of their parental duties.

According to the official data, during the 2011-2015 period, a total of 378 homicides of children had been registered. Investigative procedures had been strengthened and Special Units had been created to investigate homicides of children. The Units would soon start looking into femicide and the low prosecution rates.

Consideration of the Reports under the Optional Protocols

The Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography

RENATE WINTER, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur on the report under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, asked about the percentage of the budget allocated to the implementation of this Optional Protocol, how Honduras handled cases in which adoption was used as an excuse for trafficking, and about territorial application of the law prohibiting the sale and exploitation of children, including the nationalities of offenders and victims. The Country Rapporteur asked the delegation whether the Optional Protocol could be a legal basis for extradition and about international agreements in place with other countries, particularly bordering ones; treatment and support of victims of other nationalities identified in Honduras; and the training programme for custom and police officers, the prosecution and the judiciary in the identification of victims of trafficking. The Committee had the information that 15,000 children had been trafficked within the past six months alone, for purposes including sexual and labour exploitation and organ trafficking. What kind of assistance was provided to those children, how were the perpetrators dealt with, and what legal framework was in place for their protection?

HYND AYOUBI IDRISSI, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur on the report under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, raised the issue of the very high number of trafficked children in Honduras, noting that up to 500 children victims of trafficking returned by land routes from Mexico every week.

WANDERLINO NOGUEIRA NETO, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur on the report under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, expressed concern about the absence of a strategy to prevent the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, including addressing the root causes of poverty and the stigmatization of segments of the population, and asked whether the Government intended to undertake a study into the problem to ascertain its dimensions and develop a series of measures to address it. There was a close relationship between exploitation and massive movements of people, noted the Country Rapporteur, and asked whether Honduras had in place a mechanism for the protection of migrant children and street children. What preventive measures could be implemented to eliminate sex tourism, including changing attitudes and concluding a Code of Conduct at the local level for tourism operators?

The Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict

HATEM KOTRANE, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur on the report under the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, noted the discrepancy between the national legislation and the Optional Protocol with regard to the minimum age of recruitment; Honduras had legislation prohibiting the recruitment of children under the age of 18 into military service, but this only applied in times of peace, allowing the conscription of children under the age of 15 in times of war. Another source of concern was that students of those schools did not have access to independent complaint mechanisms. There was no prohibition in the legislation on the involvement of children in armed conflict, noted Mr. Kotrane, and asked what was being done to criminalize it and punish it as a crime against humanity. The recruitment of children by maras was a source of concern, as was the fact that some 70 per cent of homicides of children were committed by other children; what was being done to address this problem and to criminalize and prosecute armed gangs.

JORGE CARDONA LLORENS, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur on the report under the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, noted that military schools were public schools and asked about weapons training, disciplinary methods used and access of students to complaint procedures. The Committee was concerned about the Guardians of the Homeland in which thousands of children were provided with training on values by the army, which should not be in the remit of the military. The programme was voluntary in nature, but many children attended because they were afraid not to.

The delegation was also asked about measures to pursue cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross, with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on children in armed conflict, and with the United Nations Children’s Fund on the implementation of the Optional Protocol, and to provide a detailed presentation of the Guardians of the Homeland programme.

Response by Delegation

The Optional Protocol and the Convention had a higher rank in the domestic legislation, and as such complemented the existing legal provisions, including the Constitutional provisions concerning the age of recruitment in times of war. Offences committed by foreigners against foreign citizens on Honduran soil were sanctioned by the Criminal Code and offenders were subject to extradition. The criminal legislation provided for universal jurisdiction for crimes defined by international instruments, and this included also an attempt to commit a crime. Children victims of assault and children witnesses to a crime enjoyed protective status, and there were approved means enabling children to give evidence in courts via one-way mirrors, or audio or video recordings.

Investigations and prosecution of cases of human trafficking were on the increase and for the first time in 2014 police and military officers and public officials were charged in court for sexual exploitation and trafficking in persons. A hotline had been opened up in 2014 to receive complaints and information about human trafficking, which was staffed with social workers and other trained professionals.

Honduras had adopted in April 2015 the Law on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders. The law had been prepared in cooperation with civil society and had established a mechanism to protect human rights defenders. The Honduran Migrant Protection Act had entered into force in 2014, while the National Commission for the Protection of Migrants was in place and was currently being reviewed with the view of its possible inclusion into the work of the Directorate. The specific legislation for the protection of children victims of migration or trafficking was not in place, but Honduras was harmonizing its domestic legislation with international laws, and migration was one of major areas in this regard.

An Expert asked the delegation to further clarify the universal jurisdiction of Honduras for criminal acts defined in the Convention and the Optional Protocol, and whether the Optional Protocols provided sufficient grounds for extradition even in the absence of bilateral accords.

The delegation confirmed the universal jurisdiction of Honduras, namely its Criminal Code and its applicability on crimes committed by a Honduran abroad or against a Honduran citizen abroad. Honduras also had jurisdiction over crimes committed by foreign citizens against another foreign citizen, should their States fail to prosecute.

The students at the Eagles Nest Institute did not receive military instruction, enjoyed educational mobility and could transfer to other educational institutions without any difficulty, or drop out of courses without penalty, while the disciplinary regime was within the parameters of the Educational Law. Currently, the Institute was private and under the supervision of the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education had deployed significant efforts to bring respect for human rights in the curriculum. International humanitarian law was being included in the training of the police officers, and the training programme for Ministry of Defence and penitentiary officers.

The Guardians of the Homeland was a voluntary programme aimed at children not attending school. This programme took place in military premises, but it was not presided over by military personnel, and did not involve military training, including weaponry training. The new Constitution prohibited the sale of arms, ammunition and explosives to persons under the age of 21. The volume of arms in circulation was a source of great concern and Honduras was committed to limiting access to weapons for children and youth.

There had been no cases of alleged organ trafficking recorded by the public prosecutor. Honduras was not the centre of this type of trade in Central America, and was part of the regional coalition to combat human trafficking.

Concluding Remarks

RENATE WINTER, Committee Expert acting as Country Rapporteur on the report under the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, said that Committee was aware of the difficult situation in Honduras at the moment and expressed hope that its recommendations would contribute to addressing two of the most pressing problems, that of illicit migration and trafficking in children.

HATEM KOTRANE, Committee Expert and Country Rapporteur on the report under the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, recognized the willingness of Honduras to recognize and overcome the difficulties. Legal provisions in Honduras were in line with the Optional Protocol, but there was a need to address the lack of clarity concerning the involvement of children in armed conflict in times of war, access of children to weapons, and physical and social rehabilitation of children involved with armed State and non-State groups.

EDNA YOLANI BATRES CRUZ, Minister of Health of Honduras, said that the new Government was working very hard to bring about a new and different Honduras for its children to live in. The overarching vision of all institutions working with children was to provide children with love and tenderness.

SARA DE JESÚS OVIEDO FIERRO, Committee Vice-Chairperson, noted the challenges that Honduras was facing and expressed hope that the dialogue today would contribute to the situation of children in the country.

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