HomeNewsBriefHonduras Prison Fire Ruled Accident as Govt Creates 'Special Commission'
BRIEF

Honduras Prison Fire Ruled Accident as Govt Creates 'Special Commission'

HONDURAS / 22 FEB 2012 BY STEVEN DUDLEY EN

A special US investigative team working with Honduran authorities ruled that a Valentine's Day fire in a Honduras prison in the city of Comayagua that killed over 350 inmates was an accident, the US embassy said in a statement.

"The cause of the fire is believed to have been an open flame, (the source of which could include, but is not limited to, a cigarette, a lighter, matches, etc.), although the actual ignition source was not recovered," the embassy's statement reads. "The fire is believed to have begun in the area of the top two bunk beds in the fourth column along the western side of the prison's module six, which ignited nearby flammable materials."

The investigation was headed by a special team from the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and conducted with local authorities from the National Criminal Investigation Directorate (DNIC).

The Honduras government, meanwhile, announced the creation of a "Special Commission" to study prison living conditions, hiring and training of prison guards, and administrative structure, among other issues related to the country's collapsing jail system, the America Economia web page reported.

The fire was the second large-scale blaze in a Honduras prison in the last seven years. The first one, in a San Pedro Sula prison in 2004, left 107 dead.

InSight Crime Analysis

As InSight Crime has noted, the fire was the result of a decade of security policy that sought to contain the rising crime and street gang activity within the country's aged prisons. However, the justice system simply cannot keep up. Overcrowding is the norm. Comayagua was holding more than twice its capacity; the country's 24 facilities have 5,000 inmates more than capacity.

Even more disturbing, more than half of those in jail are awaiting trial. Many of these are suspected gang members rounded into jails because of their appearance where they wait for the slow-churning wheels of the Honduran justice system.

The "Special Commission" does not inspire a lot of hope. The government has been ignoring this crisis since at least 2004 when the tragic fire took place in San Pedro Sula, illustrating that prison reform is not a priority. To be sure, during a recent review of the country's prison facilities that identified Honduras' most ill-equipped jails, Comayagua did not make the list.

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

ELITES AND CRIME / 23 OCT 2020

There is one element that has proven vital to the operational success of international drug trafficking organizations the world over,…

COCAINE / 21 APR 2022

The indictment of former Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández has revealed that he is accused of receiving millions in drug…

CLAN ROTELA / 13 NOV 2020

A drug kitchen was openly run by inmates inside Paraguay’s biggest prison, Tacumbú, in one of the clearest representations to…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…