Laws concerning statutory rape; legal restrictions on the ages at which males and females may engage in sexual intercourse; and associated penalties, 1998-April 2000 [HND34327.E]

The information that follows was provided by the legal support office of Casa Alianza Honduras (Covenant House), a non-government organization that advocates the welfare of minors and has engaged for several years in legal work and defence of minors in Honduras (9 May 2000). Please note that the terms used in this Response are an unofficial translation of Honduran legal terms provided for your reference, and may not correspond to or may not have an equivalent in the Canadian legal system.

The Reformed Penal Code of Honduras (1997) describes in Article 140 the circumstances that define a rape. Aside from rape as "carnal access" (acceso carnal) forced upon a person, the article defines as "special cases of rape" (casos especiales de violación) "carnal access" by persons of either gender with any of the following: a person who is under 14 years of age; a person who is not lucid or cannot offer any resistance; when the "active person" (sujeto activo) is the guardian or custodian of the person and uses his or her position of authority to achieve the carnal access; when the active person is impersonating someone else. The penalty for rape is 9 to 12 years in prison; if the victim is under seven years of age or over 70, or if the rape is committed by more than one person, the prison term ranges from 15 to 20 years. Carnal access is defined by Article 140 as that achieved vaginally, anally or orally.

The Childhood and Adolescence Code of Honduras (Código de la Niñez y la Adolescencia) defines in its first Article the ages at which a person who commits an offence defined in the Penal Code can be held accountable. Legal childhood (niñez legal) is defined as follows: "infancy" ranges from birth to 12 years of age for males and to 14 years of age for females; "adolescence" ranges from the latter ages up to but not including 18 years of age. Those who are 18 years or older but under 21 are considered "minor adults" (adultos menores). A young person whose age cannot be defined will be assumed to be under 18 years of age until their age can be ascertained.

Children under 12 years of age cannot be penalized in any way for any offence; however, they can be given special protection and assistance to promote their development.

Article 180 of the same Code indicates that children 12 years or older cannot be tried by regular criminal courts. Article 188 defines the range of possible penalties that can be imposed on a child who commits punishable offences: family support therapy; reprimands (amonestación); imposition of rules of behaviour; community service; order to repair a damage; mandatory residence at a designated location; supervised or assisted liberty (libertad asistida); parole (régimen de semi-libertad); and detention (internamiento).

During a 9 May telephone interview, a representative of the Legal Support Office of Casa Alianza stated that offenders under 18 years of age are subject to the juvenile court system, and generally qualify for "socio-educational measures" such as education programs, therapy, and supervised freedom. The representative added that neither the Penal Code nor the Childhood and Adolescence Code have undergone amendments since 1997.

A 1997 article from La Prensa on the reform of the Penal Code states that, according to Article 96 of the new Code, persons convicted of raping a child cannot be pardoned (9 May 1997).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Casa Alianza Honduras, Tegucigalpa. 9 May 2000. Correspondence.

_____. 9 May 2000. Telephone interview with Legal Support Office representative.

La Prensa [Tegucigalpa]. 9 May 1997. "Nuevas reformas incrementan las penas a delitos de mayor actualidad." [Accessed 8 May 2000]

Additional Sources Consulted

Central America NewsPak [Austin, Tex.]. 1998-Apr. 2000.

Central America Report [Guatemala City]. 1998-Apr. 2000.

IRB Databases.

Latinamerica Press [Lima]. 1998-Apr. 2000.


Two oral sources were unable to provide information.


This list is not exhaustive. Country and subject-specific publications available in the Resource Centre are not included.

Internet search engines, including:


La Nacion [San Jose, C.R.]

La Prensa [Tegucigalpa]