Status: adopted national law or policy
On 15 May 2015, the National Congress of Honduras passed the Law for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, Journalists, Social Communicators and Justice Operators”, making Honduras the second country in the Americas to introduce a similar law (after Mexico in 2012).
This law, once again, was the result of a long process of concerns and pressures, such as continuous complaints from civil society, criticism of the Human Rights Unit of the Honduran Security Secretariat, and recommendations from the IACHR, the Human Rights Council and the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of defenders, among others.
However, it was a ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights73 that led the Government’s Secretariat of Justice and Human Rights (SJDH) to draft a bill at the end of 2012, which was subject to some consultations and remained at a standstill for some time, but was finally approved in 2015.
This new law represents a normative advance and has the potential for the protection of HRDs in Honduras. On the positive side, it incorporates key elements of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, and demonstrates recognition of HRDs, the risks they face and the importance of their work. But it also brings with it great challenges, mainly to reverse the climate of stigmatisation against defenders, to guarantee its adequate implementation and to have sufficient resources.
After the visit carried out in October 2023 to the country by Irene Khan, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, in an official statement at the end of it, she pointed out that “intimidation has reached such a high level and that the measures offered by the Protection Mechanism are so inadequate that they feel compelled to self-censor to protect themselves and their families.” The expert called for a thorough review of the Protection Mechanism, created in 2015.