HomeNewsBriefHonduras Toughens Up Anti-Gang Law
BRIEF

Honduras Toughens Up Anti-Gang Law

HONDURAS / 24 JUL 2015 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

Honduras has strengthened legislation to combat gang activity by enacting stricter prison sentencing guidelines and new legal tools for prosecuting gang members -- all in the hopes of reining in street gangs and the crime and violence they generate.

On July 22, Honduras’ Congress approved reforms to Article 332 of the country’s Penal Code -- known as the “anti-gang law” -- that increase potential prison terms for gang members to between 20 and 30 years, reported the AFP.

Those deemed by judges and prosecutors to be a gang leader also now face up to 50 years behind bars. The previous law sentenced gang leaders to between three and six years in prison, and included an approximate $4,750 fine.

The reforms -- intended to make the fight against illicit criminal organizations more effective -- also increase prison sentences by up to one-third for gang members who have conspired to attack state officials, as well as those who have used minors, the elderly, or pregnant women to commit crimes.

Convicted gang members who collaborate with the investigations of authorities, however, can now also receive a reduction of up to two-thirds of their prison term. Gang leaders are not eligible for reductions.

InSight Crime Analysis

A key issue regarding the implementation of Honduras’ penal code reforms is the question of definitions. It remains unclear what exactly constitutes a “gang” under Honduran legislation, and how officials will determine if someone is a gang member or leader when it comes to passing down prison terms.

Indeed, some community members who facilitate gang activity -- either through coercion or personal motivations -- by collecting extortion payments or selling drugs, have not been formally initiated into the gang and should not be considered full-fledged members.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Security Policy

Nonetheless, to a certain extent, the reforms account for this dilemma by increasing prison time for gang members who exploit vulnerable segments of the population to commit crimes. This is especially important in the case of minors -- who are frequently recruited by gangs since they cannot be prosecuted as adults. In effect, Honduras’ reforms work to shift the burden of risk away from minors and onto the gang members who recruit them. This may serve as a more effective deterrent to the participation of minors in criminal groups than legislation seen elsewhere in the region -- namely Brazil, where Congress recently lowered the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16.

New laws giving Honduran lawyers more tools to prosecute gang members and gang activity can be seen as a positive step. However -- as with neighboring El Salvador’s new security strategy -- the true challenge will come during implementation. Unfortunately, Honduras’ weak and corrupt criminal justice system raises doubts as to the positive effects these reforms will have at reducing high levels of insecurity and violence.

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

KIDNAPPING / 17 JUL 2014

An NGO in Mexico reported that kidnappings rose 56 percent in the first half of 2014 compared with the same…

FEATURED / 16 JAN 2020

It was always going to be a thankless task. When President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office in December of…

GENDER AND CRIME / 7 AUG 2019

A key witness in Mexico has stated that she will not give further evidence against leaders of the Zetas drug…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…