Honduras selects a full slate of 15 Supreme Court magistrates every seven years through a nomination and selection process conducted by the Nominating Board. Every five years, Honduras also selects a new Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General. Within the political context of a new administration, the complete replacement of the Supreme Court and the leadership positions at the Attorney General's Office provides a critical window of opportunity to support a credible selection process that results in a bench of qualified and independent magistrates and qualified and independent prosecutorial leadership.
The President of the Honduran Congress convened organizations involved in selecting members of the Nominating Board in mid-2022, with the full board installed by October 2022. The seven organizations on the Nominating Board proposed candidates, and additional candidates nominated themselves. The Nominating Board, with technical support and assistance from the American Bar Association (ABA), selected 45 candidates out of 181 initial candidates. The National Congress then elected 15 of the 45 as the new magistrates.
The selection process for the Attorney General is slated to begin in March 2023, after the completion of the selection process for the new Supreme Court magistrates. The organizations involved in selecting members of the Proposing Board will select their representatives, at which point the President of the Supreme Court will convene the Proposing Board to begin its work of narrowing down candidacies to five final candidates. The National Congress will then elect the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General. The incumbents’ terms end on September 1, 2023.
Strengthening the transparency and independence of the selection process will help produce a stronger, more independent, and more effective Supreme Court and Attorney General's Office, positively contributing to the rule of law in Honduras. The 2022-2023 selection processes also allow the ABA to collaborate with the Nominating Board and the Proposing Board, and improve on the 2015-2016 experience and the takeaways and lessons learned developed by the ABA during that process.
Throughout the Supreme Court selection process, the ABA has worked to support the Nominating Board with its judicial expertise and targeted technical assistance to promote a fair, equitable, and transparent selection process. The ABA will work to support the Proposing Board in the same fashion, to help ensure the Attorney General selection process reflects and complies with international standards and best practices.
In addition to supporting the selection process of the Honduran Supreme Court and Attorney General ABA ROLI also provides support to the prosecution of environmental crimes in the country. The legal system of Honduras currently experiences gaps in the laws and regulations that apply to the protection of natural resources in the country, as well as an insufficient capacity to implement and enforce the existing laws. Due to this, and in collaboration with the Environmental Law Institute (ELI), ABA ROLI works to create a resource tool, in the form of a manual, for law enforcement and prosecutors in Honduras. This manual will serve as a resource reference for criminal investigators and prosecutors of environmental crimes specifically and will provide an overview of the laws and resources available to investigate and prosecute natural resource crimes in Honduras. Together with ELI, our two organizations will create a combined manual that will cover the laws of both Guatemala and Honduras relevant to conducting investigations and prosecutions involving natural resources (e.g., fish, forest products, minerals, and wildlife).