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Honduras to build an emergency 'mega-prison'

June 15, 2024

Honduran authorities are rolling out measures aiming to reduce rampant organized crime in the Central American country. The Central American country is one of the most violent in the world.

Honduran police officers
Honduran security forces will be carrying out operations to destroy drug crops, among other thingsImage: Orlando Sierra/AFP

Honduran government leaders on Friday outlined a series of measures intended to crack down on gang crime, declaring a "security emergency." 

The headline policy was a plan to build a 20,000-capacity "mega-prison."

The measures announced resemble those implemented in neighboring El Salvador by its President Nayib Bukele, which have reduced murder rates and raised his popularity while drawing criticism from rights groups.

What do the measures include?

In a TV address late on Friday,  President Xiomara Castro said security forces should be deployed to "urgently execute interventions across parts of the country with the highest incidences of gang crimes, such as murders for hire, drug and firearm trafficking, extortion, kidnapping and money laundering."

Authorities also said the planned new prison would be built between the eastern departments of Olancha and Gracias a Dios and would virtually double the country's current prison capacity.

At present, the country has some 21,000 prison inmates spread across around 30 detention facilities.

 Xiomara Castro writing in a book
Castro came to power in January 2022 as the country's first female presidentImage: Honduran Presidency/Handout/AFP

The authorities also said the penal code must be reformed to allow drug traffickers and members of criminal gangs who commit crimes like those listed by Castro to be designated as "terrorists." This would mean they could face collective trials.

 Security forces will also carry out operations targeting plantations where coca leaf — used in producing cocaine — and marijuana are grown, along with hubs where illegal drugs are processed.

Honduras declared a state of emergency in December 2022, suspending parts of the constitution in its bid to control growing crime that authorities attributed to gangs.

It has a homicide rate almost six times the global average, with 34 people per 100,000 being killed in 2023.

tj/ab (Reuters, AFP)