Honduras—Justice, Human Rights, and Security Strengthening Activity (Unidos por la Justicia)

Client: U.S. Agency for International Development

Duration: 2016-2026

Region: Latin America and the Caribbean

Country: Honduras

Solutions: Governance Fragile States

In Honduras, a weak state response to gang-related crime has led to unprecedented levels of violence. The average Honduran living in an urban area faces risks such as bus robberies, indiscriminate homicides, extortion phone calls, and other criminal activities perpetrated by gangs. Along with corrupt law enforcement officials and political interests that oppose reforms, the rising violence has significantly undermined the public’s trust in the judicial system.

The Justice, Human Rights, and Security Strengthening Activity (Unidos por la Justicia) project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, works with local partners to improve citizen engagement with the security and justice sectors, enhance the efficiency of the judicial system, and increase the effectiveness of community police. Unidos engages civil society groups at the community level in efforts to encourage citizens in the most violence-plagued neighborhoods to get involved in their own security. Only effective, collaborative relationships between local police and the communities they serve can bring the sustainable security improvements needed to foster development. The combination of safer neighborhoods and better economic opportunities will allow Hondurans to pursue their dreams at home rather than looking for them abroad.

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Sample Activities

  • Provide training to civic and community groups on use of social accountability tools to monitor and advocate for improved government performance, including community scorecards, citizen charters, and social audit surveys.
  • Work with municipal-level judges, court staff, prosecutors, public defenders, and police to improve key services, such as victim and witness protection, evidence collection and management, timely court proceedings, and shorter pre-trial detention.
  • Engage law enforcement professionals on the importance of community policing and provide technical guidance and best practices, especially related to effective engagement with women, youth, and at-risk populations.

Select Results

Institutional Reform:

  • Upgraded to digital case files, increasing efficiency and transparency in a national criminal justice system that handles 125,000 cases annually.
  • Installed facial recognition and fingerprint processing systems at forensic medicine units to speed up positive identification, which will be connected with mobile crime scene units and the police investigations agency.

Access to Justice and Civil Society:

  • Empowered five civil society organizations to provide 1,125 gender-based violence survivors with psychological support and legal counsel, and strengthened working relations between those organizations, police, prosecutors, and government service providers. Facilitated network of 215 community volunteers in four cities to advise female survivors of violence and steer them to legal and psychological services.
  • Conducted training in social auditing for 23 civil society organizations to detect corruption; 48 civil society organizations to conduct oversight in security, justice and human rights; and 38 civil society organizations in crime data analysis and citizen security.
  • Provided support to human rights defenders to improve reporting and investigation of human rights violations, as well as institutional strengthening to the Public Prosecutor’s office and the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights to streamline the handling of human rights cases.
  • Developed the organizational structure, mission, and vision for the Human Rights Ministry, equipped and trained its Human Rights Observatory and facilitated joint research of the observatory and civil society advocates.
  • Provided training on human rights and the private sector to 90 business leaders in key urban centers and helped the nation’s largest private sector organization develop and adopt a human rights policy for businesses.

Community Policing:

  • Supported 962 National Police community relations activities that attracted the participation of 72,681 residents of 29 high-crime barrios, including 43,961 children and youths.
  • Supported 25 trainings for 570 people, mostly police officers, on human rights and community policing issues, and produced curriculum to be instituted by the National Police Academy.

Protecting Women:

  • Supported training on gender-based violence and gender equality in the workplace in a series of workshops attended by 256 business executives.
  • Designed training to support female survivors of violence now incorporated into National Police Academy coursework.
  • Led a participatory external assessment of the National Police and gender, prompting the opening of gender offices in urban police stations in the country’s two largest cities.
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