HomeNewsBriefSecurity Concerns Remain Despite Drop in Homicides in Honduras
BRIEF

Security Concerns Remain Despite Drop in Homicides in Honduras

HOMICIDES / 20 APR 2017 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

Authorities in Honduras say that their fight against organized crime is responsible for the country's plateauing homicide rate, highlighting the complex interaction between hard-line security policies and levels of violence.*

In years past, Honduras has been the murder capital of the world. Homicides peaked in 2011 at a rate of 86.5 murders per 100,000 people. However, that rate has dropped considerably since, El Heraldo reported. 

According to figures from the Violence Observatory at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras - UNAH), homicides fell slightly to a rate of 85.5 per 100,000 in 2012, and slightly more in 2013 to 79 per 100,000. 

The homicide rate saw its biggest drop between 2013 and 2014, during which murders fell to a rate of 68 per 100,000. This decrease continued through 2015 as the year-end homicide rate rounded out at 60 per 100,000. 

However, this steady decrease leveled out in 2016 as the homicide rate remained almost identical. The Violence Observatory at UNAH recorded 5,154 homicides in 2016, just six more than the 5,148 homicides recorded in 2015. 

In reference to the minimal reduction in 2016, Honduran Police Chief Felix Villanueva told El Heraldo that in 2016 there was a "direct attack on the criminal structures" that caused homicide rates to stagnate as criminal groups "retaliated" against the hardline measures.

Last month after an official visit to Washington, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández explained how the United States praised Honduras as an example of "security, transparency, fighting corruption and impunity," among other things.

However, the 2016 annual report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights stressed that "violence and crime persist in Honduras due to a complex set of historical and contextual factors."

InSight Crime Analysis 

Accounting for changes in countries' homicide rates is a complex process, and there are always factors to consider beyond the government's security strategy. However, Honduran authorities appear to be making contradictory assumptions about the effects of their anti-crime strategies.

On one hand, Villanueva claims that the government's forceful efforts to combat crime have led to a response from criminal groups that has led to the end of the general trend of declining violence seen in recent years. But President Hernández has in the past appeared to credit his government's heavy-handed approach for improvements in security.

It is unlikely that either explanation is entirely accurate. Moreover, Hernández's praise of Honduran security forces comes as he mounts a run for re-election after the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional ban on the practice in 2015. Linking his administration's policies to the general decline in violence in recent years might be an effort to strengthen that bid. 

SEE MORE: Honduras News and Profile

The police too may be trying to frame statistics in a positive light. Rather than explaining the plateau in murder rates as a potential sign of the limits of repressive approaches to crime, the police are spinning it as evidence that crime groups are hurting due to their efforts.

It is important to note that highlighting homicide statistics may play well politically, but narrowly focusing on murder rates ignores other indicators of criminality, potentially leaving important security problems unaddressed.

* This article has been updated from its original version to clarify several points.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

BARRIO 18 / 13 APR 2012

El Salvador's Security Minister David Munguia said that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 gangs carried out half of…

COCAINE / 4 NOV 2020

Authorities in Honduras have destroyed more than 100 acres of coca crops this year, showing that criminal groups continue to…

ARMS TRAFFICKING / 23 AUG 2017

As set out in this report, the legal structure around Honduras' arms trade is deeply flawed. The legislation is…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…

THE ORGANIZATION

Backing Investigative Journalism Around the Globe

5 NOV 2021

InSight Crime was a proud supporter of this year's Global Investigative Journalism Conference, which took place November 1 through November 5 and convened nearly 2,000 journalists…