Information on the penalties faced by a soldier who deserted from the Honduran army in 1992 taking into account that he had been illegally recruited against his will when he was a minor and that he had deserted before having reached the age of majority; on the form and content of identity cards issued to Honduran army recruits from 1990 to 1993; and on the existence of a military base situated some forty kilometres from the city of San Pedro Sula; and on the number of soldiers at this base during the same period [HND27098.FE]

The project director at the National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors (NISBCO) in Washington provided the information that follows to the DIRB in a telephone interview on 12 June 1997. During a stay in Honduras in 1995, the project director had worked on educational projects related to military service. The NISBCO is currently preparing a detailed report on military service in Latin America.

At the present time, the risk facing a former soldier who deserted from the Honduran army in 1992 would be negligible. NISBCO has not recently received any complaints from Honduran conscientious objectors. Even though the Honduran Congress has not yet adopted in second reading the bill on voluntary military service, as proposed in the constitutional reform of 1994, the compulsory conscription of a Honduran army deserter is improbable even if he were a minor in 1992. The Honduran army is now calling for volunteers and in January 1997, it launched a recruitment campaign that relies on good salaries and good working conditions to attract new recruits. For more information on this recruitment campaign, please consult the attached article by IPS.

However, a deserter could be subjected to bad treatment if identified during an arrest, or detention for questioning, or through a national registration system. Congress is currently studying the bill on the national registration system and it is anticipated that it will be adopted before the end of this year.However, a specialist on Honduras, a professor of political science at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, stated in a telephone interview on 13 June 1997 that such a registration system would be used for electoral purposes and would not be used to find deserters since the current level of recruitment is low. The Honduran army only numbers about 3,000 soldiers in the whole of the country. He added that a deserter returning to Honduras today would only have problems with the authorities if he had a criminal record.

An assistant to the military attaché at the Embassy of Honduras in Washington said in a telephone interview on 12 June 1997 that the army was not attempting to trace deserters in a systematic manner because of their considerable numbers. Like the project director at NISBCO and the political science professor, she stated that deserters who return to Honduras today, including minor deserters, would not be prosecuted.

The project director at NISBCO and the assistant to the military attaché confirmed that between 1990 and 1993, recruits would have received military cards (tarjeta militar) for purposes of identification. The assistant to the military attaché added that the colour of the cards varied from one army corps to another. According to the assistant, the card bears the official title of the army and the signature of military authorities.

As to the existence of a military base situated some forty kilometres from the city of San Pedro Sula, the assistant to the military attaché stated that there were several of them and that supplementary details about the base in question would be necessary in order to respond to the question.

For more information on the new law on voluntary military service, please consult the letter sent by fax from NISBCO and attached to Response to Information Request HND25568.F of 12 November 1996.

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.

References


Embassy of Honduras, Washington. 12 June 1997. Telephone interview with the assistant to the military attaché.

Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. 13 June 1997. Telephone interview with a professor of political science specializing on Honduras.

National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors (NISBCO), Washington. 12 June 1997. Telephone interview with the program director.

Attachment


Inter Press Service (IPS). 21 January 1997. Thelma Mejia. "Honduras: The Army Wants You!" (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted


Country file: Honduras. 1996-1997.

Amnesty International country file. 1996-1997.

Central America Newspak [Austin, Texas]. 1997.

Central America Report [Guatemala City]. 1996-1997.

Foreign Broadcast Information Services (FBIS). Quotidien.

Latinamerica Press [Lima]. 1994.

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