Honduras is one of the world’s most dangerous countries, with sexual violence against women and children making up a large portion of crimes. A 2012 United Nations Population Fund report indicates that approximately 4,000 sexual crimes (49.7 for every 100,000 inhabitants) are reported every year in Honduras; of these, 80 percent involve minors. Since the Honduran congress passed a law that imposed harsher penalties for sex-related crimes in May 2012, law enforcement officials and the general public have been increasingly aware of and interested in this issue.
Ronny Matute Garcia, from the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Children in Tegucigalpa, said that learning about how to investigate sexual crimes, sexual exploitation, human trafficking and femicide will help him develop his capacities as a prosecutor. It will buttress the fight against impunity for sexual crimes, he added. The training gave participants an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the roles of various legal actors under the accusatorial system. Garcia said, “The issue was approached from a holistic perspective, equally valuing the contributions of legal science, medical and criminology in the development of criminal investigation and prosecution.”
The training also helped sensitize participants to survivors’ needs, encouraging them to ensure that survivors’ fundamental rights are protected. “One of the most valuable contributions of this course was being able to look at these issues through a gender perspective,” said Garcia. “[It] has sparked a greater interest in assessing the differences” between the approaches of male and female professionals to sex crimes. Garcia added that the training has raised the participants’ interest in “continuing to acquire this expertise.”
Participants said that the training will help to alleviate the lack of coordination among first-responders and to foster communication and trust between various law enforcement institutions. The third of the series of trainings, which is part of ABA ROLI’s program to increase forensic capacity in Central America, will be held in the coming months. ABA ROLI will also hold specialized crime-scene investigation courses in El Salvador and Guatemala.
To learn more about our work in Central America, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at [email protected].