How the threads of impunity are sewn together

Publicado el Jueves, 13 de Junio del 2013 en Informes Nacionales, Publicaciones Women'sTribunal Against Femicide

How the threads of impunity are sewn together
“How the threads of impunity are sewn together”, produced by the Women’s Tribunal against Femicide.

The study shows that between 2011 and 2012, femicide cases have increased from 512 to 606 cases. This information has been ratified by the National Autonomous University of Honduras’ (UNAH) Violence Observatory. The State is unable to comply with its mandate to protect and is unable to act to protect women and 98 per cent of crimes go unpunished. On average, 51 women are murdered every month. One woman is murdered every 15 hours 30 minutes. These murders are committed in Honduras’ urban centres such as San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa, and Comayagüela.

Femicide in Honduras is a complex problem. This study uses a quantitative and qualitative approach to unpack this complex issue. It examines the data trends and analyses the factors that contribute to this violent phenomenon. In doing so it seeks to draw attention to the barriers that prevent justice being served and the way that victims’ families are effectively left without recourse to obtaining justice.

The victims of femicide are predominantly young women, between the ages of 20 and 24. This has given rise to authorities avoiding their responsibility and stating that the victims were at least partially responsible for the crimes committed against them. These young women are predominantly murdered on public roads, in their houses or in private residences. Such places are supposedly places of security and protection. Their bodies are dumped on open ground.

Some of the study’s conclusions

The State has taken some steps to try and comply with the recommendations made by different organisations with regard to women’s human rights. One such step has been the passing of a reform to the Penal Code to include the act of femicide, which took place on the 21st of February, 2013. However, this reaction has been insufficient in response to the scale of the problem.  For rates of femicisde to be reduced, the issue as a whole is must be tackled in an integrated way. In this sense, some of the study’s conclusions reveal important findings and evidence:

·         The measures implemented by Honduran State to counteract the problem of violence are primarily repressive in nature. The combination of: remilitarisation of society as well as the increase in use and carrying of weapons throughout the region has had particularly violent consequences for women.

·         The report shows that impunity is a persistent part of the problem. Police authorities have been implicated and directly involved in extra judicial killings and specific cases of femicide. As a result citizens, especially women, have a very high level of mistrust of police.

·         The institutional collapse of the Attorney General’s Office, the Department of Criminal Investigation and the courts of law is visible. The country’s judicial bodies continue to dismiss international norms on violence against women. Criminal proceedings are long, difficult and reflect the little value given to loss of life in Honduras.

·         A lack of harmonisation between relevant pieces of legislation persists. Moreover, little attention is paid to internationally agreed commitments or conventions on the prevention of, attention to, sanctioning of, and eradication of violence. Data shows that discrimination persists in legislation and their application as well as legal proceedings.

·         Access to justice continues to be a problem that affects women more than men. This requires concrete action to ensure that women are able to access justice and exercise their rights.  Absence of criminal investigation is one of the main obstacles to women’s access to justice. The gender dimension, implicit in all crimes against women is not taken seriously at every stage of investigation of femicide.

·         It has been documented that victims’ families and supporters are habitually stigmatised and threatened when they make public appearances or when they demand progress in legal proceedings and the punishment of those responsible for crimes against women. 

·         Low levels of coordination between institutions and limited integration between public policies that tackle violence against women, means that femicide and violence against women is not dealt with as a structural problem. As a result, the measures implemented often remain on-paper commitments which, rather than eradicate violence, serve to promote it.

In a context of such high levels of  impunity, the Women’s Tribunal against Femicide demands that the Honduran State sanction public officials and administrators of justice responsible for investigating, processing and responding to cases of femicide who fail to fulfil their responsibilities or whose actions could be proved to be negligent or disinterested, and who, through such actions, allow gender-based discrimination to prevail in the application of laws, public policies and international conventions that seek to protect women’s rights.

¡In memory of their lives, we will not allow their deaths to remain unpunished!
National Campaign against Femicide

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