Honduras | Freedom House

Freedom in the World

Freedom in the World 2017



Freedom Status: 
Partly Free

Freedom in the World Scores

(1=Most Free, 7=Least Free)

Quick Facts

Press Freedom Status: 
Not Free

Honduras is a multiparty democracy, but institutional weakness, corruption, violence, and impunity undermine its stability. Journalists, human rights defenders, and political activists face significant threats, including harassment, surveillance, detention, and murder. Though it has fallen in recent years, Honduras’s murder rate remains among the highest per capita in the world. 

Key Developments: 
  • In March, internationally recognized rights activist Berta Cáceres was murdered in her home after campaigning against the construction of a dam on indigenous lands. 
  • In April, leaked documents revealed that high-ranking police officials had been involved in the 2009 killing of Honduras’s top antidrug official, and in the murder of his deputy two years later. Major reforms to the national police force followed the revelations.
  • The Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH), a body established in a 2015 agreement between the Honduran government and the Organization of American States (OAS), began work in April.
  • In August, Congress rejected an opposition-backed initiative to hold a plebiscite on a controversial 2015 Supreme Court decision to allow presidential reelection. In November, President Juan Orlando Hernández announced he would seek a second term.
Executive Summary: 

The March 2016 murder of Cáceres, a high-profile rights activist, and the revelation in April that top police officials had been involved in the past murders of two top antidrug officials, drew renewed international attention to pervasive violence, corruption, and impunity in Honduras. The country is among the most dangerous in the world for rights activists to operate, and its per capita murder rate is among the world’s highest. Attacks generally go unpunished, leaving a pervasive climate of impunity.

In response to the revelations of high-level police officials’ involvement in the murders of the antidrug officials, a Special Commission for the Purging and Reform of the National Police was formed in April 2016. During the year it conducted investigations and instituted various organizational changes to the police force, including the discharge of more than 1,000 police officials.

In response to national and international pressure over a scandal involving the misappropriation of social security funds, the Hernández government in 2015 signed an agreement with the OAS to create MACCIH, which began operating in April 2016. During the year, the body investigated the social security scandal, and helped to develop a party financing law and a new court system for corruption cases.

In August, Congress rejected an opposition-backed initiative to hold a plebiscite on a controversial 2015 Supreme Court decision to allow presidential reelection. Opponents of the ruling say the Supreme Court lacked the authority to overturn the article of the constitution that banned presidents from running for a second term. In November, amid the controversy, President Hernández announced that he would run for a second term in 2017. 

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