Honduras: Procedures for lodging a criminal complaint with the police, including a complaint about police activity or misconduct and how effectively such complaints are processed; procedures to obtain a copy of a police report (January 2011-December 2015) [HND105349.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

Information on the procedures for lodging a criminal complaint with the police, including a complaint about police activity or misconduct, was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

1. Procedures for Lodging a Criminal Complaint with the Police and Obtaining a Copy of a Police Report

Sources indicate that a person can report a crime to the National Directorate of Criminal Investigations (Dirección Nacional de Investigación Criminal, DNIC) of the National Police (Honduras n.d.a; US n.d.). The website of the US embassy in Honduras describes the DNIC as "the local investigative police" and specifies that a crime is reported "in the jurisdiction where [it] took place" and that the victim receives a copy of the report (ibid.).

Sources indicate that a complaint can be lodged with the Public Ministry (Ministerio Público) (Honduras 5 Sept. 2014; Lawyer 22 Oct. 2015), [translation] "anywhere in the country" (ibid.). The website of the Public Ministry lists 27 regional prosecution offices (fiscalías) in the country (Honduras 14 Mar. 2013). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a Tegucigalpa-based lawyer who specializes in criminal law indicated that the victim receives a copy of the report upon lodging the complaint and that it contains the seal and signature of the official who took the complaint (Lawyer 22 Oct. 2015).

According to the lawyer, in order to obtain an additional copy of a police report, a person must go to the office of the Public Ministry and provide the file number and their identity card (ibid.). The lawyer indicated that a person can obtain an additional copy of a police report from outside Honduras; they must go to a Honduran consulate and give a power-of-attorney to a proxy in Honduras, who must then go to the place where the complaint was lodged (ibid.).

2. Procedures for Lodging a Complaint Against the Police

Articles 14 and 15 of the Law on the National Police of Honduras (Ley Orgánica de la Policía Nacional de Honduras) indicate that the National Directorate of Internal Affairs (Dirección Nacional de Asuntos Internos) of the National Police investigates ex officio or through a complaint any crime committed by a police officer and notifies the Public Ministry if the allegations are founded (Honduras 2008).

Sources indicate that complaints against the police can be lodged with the Public Ministry (Lawyer 22 Oct. 2015; Honduras 6 May 2014). The website of the Public Ministry indicates that the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights (Fiscalía Especial de Derechos Humanos) is the body responsible for investigating and prosecuting human rights violations committed by state officers (ibid.). However, the Lawyer also indicated that [translation] "usually, [victims] first lodge the complaint with the National Commissioner for Human Rights [Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, CONADEH] in order to receive support [during the investigation process]" (22 Oct. 2015). CONADEH is the national organization that [translation] "'guarantees the rights and freedoms recognized by the Constitution'" (Honduras n.d.c). According to its website, CONADEH can investigate, ex officio or through a complaint, [translation] "any state authority" for "abuse of power, arbitrariness, error of law, negligence or omission, and the failure to execute a judicial sentence" (ibid.). The 2014 annual report of CONADEH indicates that complaints against state officials, including the police, can be lodged by telephone, free of charge, through line 132, on its webpage or in person (ibid. Mar. 2015, 96). The website of CONADEH lists 20 CONADEH offices throughout the country (ibid. n.d.b).

Information on how to obtain a copy of a report regarding a complaint against the police could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

3. Effectiveness

The website of the US embassy in Honduras indicates that "[m]any crime investigations never result in the arrest of a suspect. Collection of forensic evidence is not a common practice in Honduras" (US n.d.). The 2014 annual report of CONADEH similarly indicates that impunity in Honduras is [translation] "90 percent or higher," and that crimes that go unpunished are committed "specially against … lawyers, judges, prosecutors, journalists, police officers, taxi and bus drivers, women, and sexual minorities" (Honduras Mar. 2015, 31).

The lawyer indicated that investigations regarding complaints against the police [translation] "have a low success rate" (22 Oct. 2015). According to CONADEH's 2014 annual report, 12,068 complaints were lodged with CONADEH in 2014, including 1,542 against the National Police, 909 related to the education sector, and 617 to the judiciary (Honduras Mar. 2015, 214, 217). The annual report also indicates that 9,889 complaints were [translation] "resolved," including 4,117 complaints through the "restitution of the right that had been violated," 2,717 through "orientation and support," and 2,975 through "other forms of closure" (ibid., 216).

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 for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Honduras. March 2015. Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CONADEH). Informe al honorable Congreso Nacional de la República, año 2014. <http://app.conadeh.hn/descargas/InformesAnuales/CONADEH_2014.pdf> [Accessed 17 Nov. 2015]

_____. 5 September 2014. Nestor Juarez. Ministerio Público. "Cobertura y tipo de denuncia." <https://www.mp.hn/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=113&Itemid=129> [Accessed 17 Nov. 2015]

_____. 6 May 2014. Ministerio Público. "Fiscalía Especial de Derechos Humanos." <https://www.mp.hn/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=771&Itemid=230> [Accessed 18 Nov. 2015]

_____. 14 March 2013. Ministerio Público. "Direcciones de las Fiscalías Regionales del Ministerio Público." <https://www.mp.hn/index.php?option=com_remository&Itemid=81&func=startdown&id=133> [Accessed 17 Nov. 2015]

_____. 2008. Ley Orgánica de la Policía Nacional de Honduras. <http://www.tsc.gob.hn/leyes/ley%20de%20policia%20seccion%20A.pdf> [Accessed 18 Nov. 2015]

_____. N.d.a. Secretaría de Seguridad de Honduras. "Organigrama de la Dirección Policial de Investigación." <http://www.seguridad.gob.hn/> [Accessed 17 Nov. 2015]

_____. N.d.b. Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CONADEH). "Contacto CONADEH." <http://conadeh.hn/?page_id=384> [Accessed 18 Nov. 2015]

_____. N.d.c. Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humanos (CONADEH). "Cómo funciona el CONADEH." <http://conadeh.hn/?page_id=406> [Accessed 17 Nov. 2015]

Lawyer. 22 October 2015. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

United States (US). N.d. Embassy in Honduras. "U.S. Citizen Victims of Crime." <http://honduras.usembassy.gov/uscitvictims.html> [Accessed 22 Oct. 2015]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Asociación para una Sociedad más Justa; Honduras – Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, Embassy in Canada, Ministerio Público, Secretaría de Justicia y Derechos Humanos, Secretaría de Seguridad de Honduras; nine criminal lawyers.

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International; El Heraldo; El Libertador; Factiva; Freedom House; Honduras – Consulate in Montreal, Embassy in Washington, Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores; Human Rights Watch; InSight Crime; La Prensa; La Tribuna; United Nations – Refworld, ReliefWeb; Washington Office on Latin America.