No detention centre mapping data


Honduras Immigration Detention

Better known as the source of tens of thousands of undocumented children smuggled to North America in recent years, Honduras also has a long history detaining foreigners transiting its territory, at times with support from the United States. The country reportedly detained 2,526 migrants in 2013 and 1,198 in in 2012.

Quick Facts


Immigration detainees (2013): 2,526
Immigration detention capacity (2015): 40
International migrants (2015): 28,100
New asylum applications (2016): 9

Profile Updated: September 2015

Honduras Immigration Detention Profile

Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world, is plagued with very high levels of crime and gang violence, and most of its population is mired in poverty. In recent years, it has seen tens of thousands of adults and children seek the assistance of people smugglers to flee the country; upwards of a million Hondurans (or about 10 percent of the population) live abroad. In 2014, the arrival of thousands of Honduran children at the U.S.-Mexico border sparked a public panic in the United States, and many children and families ended up in hastily established detention centres as they awaited deportation back to Honduras.[1]

Honduras also serves as a transit country for people from neighbouring countries as well as so-called extracontinentals seeking passage north. A vast majority of transiting people come from Cuba, but there are also migrants from Nicaragua, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and India.[2]

Undocumented migrants are subject to detention even though the country’s immigration legislation fails to clearly provide for this practice. According to statistics provided by the Migration Directorate the country detained 2,526 migrants in 2013 and 1,198 in 2012.[3] The main countries of origin of detainees are Cuba, India, Bangladesh, Somalia, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia.[4]

The country’s migration policy is provided in the 2003 Migration Law (Ley de Migracion y Extranjeria) and the 2004 Migration Regulation (Reglamento de la Ley de Migracion y Extranjeria). Both the Law and Regulation are vague on the issue of detention. The only provision that explicitly mentions immigration detention is article 8(16) of the Migration Law, which describes the responsibilities of the Migration Directorate (Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería), recently rebranded as National Institute for Migration (Instituto Nacional de Migracion). One of its responsibilities is to temporarily detain (custodiar, literally “to guard” or “to keep”) migrants in special assistance centres (“centros especiales de atencion”) while their migration status is being decided or deportation or expulsion organized.

Grounds for deportation and expulsion appear to indirectly serve as grounds for detention. Under the Migration Law, deportation may be ordered when: a non-citizen has entered or stayed in the country using false documents; remains in the country following the cancellation of a right to stay; or has entered the country without authorization (Migration Law, article 88). Foreigners also face expulsion after serving penal sentences, for undertaking activities not allowed by his/her permit, or for re-entering to the country after expulsion (Migration Law, article 89).

The law fails to provide a maximum length of detention. However, authorities interpret some provisions of the Migration Law, which are unrelated to detention, to limit the length of detention to 90 days. In practice, however, migrants tend to be detained for two to four weeks. There are no alternatives to detention, in law or in practice.[5]

The Migration Law also fails to provide any detention-related procedural safeguards. Observers in Honduras told the Global Detention Project that in practice detained migrants are informed about reasons for their detention and have access to a lawyer, paid by them, if they request. However, in the majority of cases, the only legal advice given to detainees is provided by civil society organizations. Some migration officers speak English and can help detainees understand the process; however, this practice is not systematic or predictable. The only possibility to appeal detention is to bring habeas corpus action. Yet, such appeals are extremely rare in practice. There is no automatic review of detention.[6]

Honduras operates two dedicated immigration detention facilities. Like its neighbours, the country employs euphemisms to name these centres, which are officially called Centros de Atención al Migrante Irregular (CAMI), or “Irregular Migrant Attention Centre.” (Nicaragua, for example, calls its facility the “Migrants Shelter Centre.”).The centres are located at the premises of the Migration Directorate in Tegucigalpa and Choluteca. Before opening the centres around 2010, migrants were already detained in these facilities, however in an informal manner. Both centres have a capacity to detain approximately 20 migrants but usually there are no more than 10 people on a given day.[7]

Men and women are detained separately. Minors, following a short period of detention while their age is determined, are released from the centres and placed in care centres managed by the National Directorate for Children and Family (Dirección Nacional de la Niñez y la Familia). If a child travels with his mother, they are both placed in a care centre.[8]

According to GDP sources in Honduras, the cost per detainee per day is around 12 USD (this includes only food, drinking water, and items of the basic hygiene).[9] Reportedly the conditions of detention are very basic, both in terms of food and equipment of the centres. In general, authorities tend to allow visits by civil society organizations. The Ombudsperson, who is authorized by law to monitor all the places of detention in the country, visits the centres on rare occasions.[10]

Honduras and U.S. Anti-Smuggling Operations

Observers have criticized the United States for pressuring Honduras and its neighbours to detain transiting migrants because it is cheaper.[11] A case in point was Honduras’ involvement in U.S.-led anti-smuggling operations during the 1990s and 2000s called “Operation Disrupt,” which targeted migration and smuggling activities in the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, and Canada.[12]

In 1997, when “Disrupt” anti-smuggling operations were subsumed under the rubric a larger U.S. initiative called “Global Reach,” U.S. immigration officials significantly broadened the scope of their Latin American activities. These included undertaking annual multilateral interception operations with law enforcement personnel from dozens of Latin American countries. According to activists in these countries, during the operations, U.S. immigration agents accompanied local authorities to restaurants, hotels, border crossings, checkpoints, and airports to help identify and apprehend suspicious travelers.[13]

In a series of yearly press statements in the late 1990s and early 2000s, U.S. authorities proudly announced the results of each operation. In 2000, for example, the INS (U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service) declared that year’s Disrupt operation, “Forerunner,” to be the “largest anti-smuggling operation ever conducted in the Western Hemisphere.” Involving agents from six Latin America countries, the operation nabbed 3,500 migrants and 38 smugglers.[14]

Forerunner was followed in 2001 by “Crossroads International,” which the INS again described as the “largest multinational anti-smuggling operation ever conducted in the Western Hemisphere,” this one resulting in the arrest of 75 smugglers and the interdiction of some 8,000 migrants from 39 countries. “The wide-ranging anti-smuggling operation was directed by the INS Mexico City District Office and involved … law enforcement officers in Columbia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, and Peru,” said a press statement.[15]

Officials in countries participating in the U.S.-led anti-smuggling operations often received U.S. budgetary assistance to help detain and deport migrants. In 2000, for example, the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB), which had sent a delegation to Central America to study regional migration issues, issued a scathing press release decrying U.S. interdiction activities in the region. As part of the trip, the bishops representatives visited a prison in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, that was filled with migrants who had been detained during Operation Forerunner. Said the press release:

“We are gravely concerned with the human impact of Operation Forerunner, a multilateral regional effort purportedly designed to apprehend and prosecute human smugglers, or ‘coyotes,’ who provide transport to migrants through the region and on their journey north. We strongly agree that these smugglers, who charge migrants as much as $5,000 to shepherd their trip, should be captured and brought to justice. However, Operation Forerunner has had the effect of targeting migrants more than the persons who smuggle them, resulting in many migrants being placed in substandard prisons in the region without representation or the opportunity to apply for asylum. … The results of Operation Forerunner give us pause as to the real objectives of the initiative. In each of the countries visited, the governments apprehended only a handful of ‘coyotes’ while capturing several thousand migrants, jailing many of them, and returning them to their countries. The U.S. government has been intimately involved in these interdiction efforts, offering teams of ‘advisors’ to the Central American governments and paying for the return of extra-regional migrants to their homes. As one U.S. embassy official informed us, ‘It is less expensive to take care of the problem here than when they reach the United States.’”[16]

 


[1] Telesur, “Migrant Mothers, Children Could Be Freed from US Detention,” 12 May 2015, "http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Migrant-Mothers-Children-Could-Be-Freed-from-US-Detention-20150512-0004.html"

[2] Hondudiario. "ACNUR conocerá causas de migración hondureña a Costa Rica." 29 January 2015. http://www.hondudiario.com/?q=node/16656

[3] Hondudiario. "ACNUR conocerá causas de migración hondureña a Costa Rica." 29 January 2015. http://www.hondudiario.com/?q=node/16656

[4] Undisclosed source. Phone calls with Izabella Majcher (Global Detention Project). September 2015.

[5] Undisclosed source. “GDP Questionnaire on Honduras.” September 2014. Undisclosed source. Phone calls with Izabella Majcher (Global Detention Project). September 2015.

[6] Undisclosed source. “GDP Questionnaire on Honduras.” September 2014. Undisclosed source. Phone calls with Izabella Majcher (Global Detention Project). September 2015.

[7] Hondudiario. "ACNUR conocerá causas de migración hondureña a Costa Rica." 29 January 2015. http://www.hondudiario.com/?q=node/16656. Undisclosed source. Phone calls with Izabella Majcher (Global Detention Project). September 2015.  

[8] Undisclosed source. “GDP Questionnaire on Honduras.” September 2014.

[9] Undisclosed source. Email exchange with Izabella Majcher (Global Detention Project). September 2014.

[10] Undisclosed source. Phone calls with Izabella Majcher (Global Detention Project). September 2015.

[11] U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). 2000. “Statement on Visit to Central American Nations of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras.” 10 November 2000.

[12] For more detailed information about these anti-smuggling operations, see Michael Flynn,  “There and Back Again: On the Diffusion of Immigration Detention,” Journal on Migration and Human Security, 2014, http://jmhs.cmsny.org/index.php/jmhs/article/view/31.

[13] Michael Flynn, “Donde Esta La Frontera,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July/August 2002, http://www.globaldetentionproject.org/fileadmin/publications/Flynn_frontera.pdf.

[14] U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). 2000. “INS and Central American Governments Disrupt Alien Smuggling Operations.” INS Press Release. October 17, 2000.

[15] U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). 2001. “Largest Multinational Alien Smuggling Operation Results in 7,898 Arrests in Latin America and Caribbean, International Cooperation of 14 Nations Called Key to Success,” INS Press Release. June 27, 2001.

[16] U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). 2000. “Statement on Visit to Central American Nations of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras.” 10 November 2000.

Centres List

No detention centres data available

Statistics Expand all



2,526

Total number of immigration detainees by year

2013

  • Total number of immigration detainees by year
NumberObservation Date
2,5262013
1,1982012


9.2

Immigration detainees as a percentage of total international migrant population

2013

  • Immigration detainees as a percentage of total international migrant population
PercentageObservation Date
9.22013


40

Estimated total immigration detention capacity

2015

  • Estimated total immigration detention capacity
NumberObservation Date
402015


2

Number of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres

2015

  • Number of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
NumberObservation Date
22015


40

Estimated capacity of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres

2015

  • Estimated capacity of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
NumberObservation Date
402015


0

Number of dedicated medium-term immigration detention centres

2014

  • Number of dedicated medium-term immigration detention centres
NumberObservation Date
02014


0

Number of immigration offices

2014

  • Number of immigration offices
NumberObservation Date
02014


0

Number of transit facilities

2014

  • Number of transit facilities
NumberObservation Date
02014


0

Number of criminal facilities

2014

  • Number of criminal facilities
NumberObservation Date
02014


0

Number of ad hoc facilities

2014

  • Number of ad hoc facilities
NumberObservation Date
02014


17,253

Criminal prison population

2016

  • Criminal prison population
NumberObservation Date
17,2532016
12,9692013
12,3362011
10,8092008
11,5892005
11,5022002
9,5511998
8,9331995
5,7171992


1.3

Percentage of foreign prisoners

2011

  • Percentage of foreign prisoners
PercentageObservation Date
1.32011
1.22010


200

Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)

2016

  • Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)
NumberObservation Date
2002016
1602013
1592011
1482008
1672005
1762002
1601998
1581995
1091992



8,075,000

Population

2015

  • Population
NumberObservation Date
8,075,0002015
7,900,0002012


28,100

International migrants

2015

  • International migrants
NumberObservation Date
28,1002015
27,5002013


0.3

International migrants as a percentage of the population

2015

  • International migrants as a percentage of the population
PercentageObservation Date
0.32015
0.32013


11

Refugees

2016

  • Refugees
NumberObservation Date
112016
302015
162014


9

Total number of new asylum applications

2016

  • Total number of new asylum applications
NumberObservation Date
92016
112014
92012


100

Refugee recognition rate

2014

  • Refugee recognition rate
NumberObservation Date
1002014


0

Stateless persons

2016

  • Stateless persons
NumberObservation Date
02016
02015
12014

Domestic Law Expand all

Legal tradition Show sources
NameObservation Date
Civil law

Constitutional guarantees? Show sources
NameConstitution and ArticlesYear AdoptedLast Year Amended
YesPolitical Constitution, articles 69, 71, and 8420052005
Core pieces of national legislation Show sources
NameYear AdoptedLast Year Amended
Ley de Migración y Extranjería, Decree 208-20032003
Regulations, standards, guidelines Show sources
NameYear Published
REGLAMENTO DE LA LEY DE MIGRACIÓN Y EXTRANJERÍA2004

Immigration-status-related grounds Show sources
NameObservation Date
Detention to effect removal2015
Detention to establish/verify identity and nationality2015
Detention for unauthorised entry or stay2015
Detention for unauthorized stay resulting from criminal conviction2015

Average length of detention Show sources
Number of DaysObservation Date
212014

Provision of basic procedural standards Show sources
NameIn LawIn PracticeObservation Date
Information to detaineesNoYes2015
Right to legal counselNoYes2015
Access to free interpretation servicesNoNo2015
Independent review of detentionNoNo2015

Impact of alternatives Show sources
NameImpact of NatureObservation Date
Not applicableThere are no alternatives2015

Is the detention of vulnerable persons provided in law? Are they detained in practice? Show sources
NameIn LawIn PracticeObservation Date
Unaccompanied minorsNot mentionedNo2015

International Law Expand all

International treaties Show sources
NameRatification Year
OP ICESCR, Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights2018
CRSSP, Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons2012
CRPD, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2008
ICPED, International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance2008
CTOCTP, Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children2008
CTOCSP, Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime2008
OPCAT, Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment2006
ICRMW, International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families2005
ICERD, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination2002
ICCPR, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights1997
CAT, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment1996
CRSR, Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees1992
PCRSR, Protocol to the Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees1992
CRC, Convention on the Rights of the Child1990
CEDAW, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women1983
ICESCR, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights1981
VCCR, Vienna Convention on Consular Relations1968
Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
  17/19
Individual complaints procedure Show sources
NameAcceptance Year
CRPD, Optional Protocol to o the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities2010
ICCPR, First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 19662005
Ratio of complaints procedures accepted Show sources
NumberObservation Date
2/9
2/9
Relevant recommendations issued by treaty bodies Show sources
NameRecommendation ExcerptRecommendation Year
Committee on Migrant Workers37. The Committee recommends that the State party should strengthen actions aimed at protecting the right to freedom of Honduran migrant workers and their families in Mexico and the United States, in particular through: (a) Initiatives and bilateral dialogues that aim to ensure that detention is used only as an exceptional measure and a last resort by States where Honduran migrant workers reside or are in transit; (b) The strengthening, expansion and enhancement of consular actions aimed at protecting migrant workers and members of their families who are deprived of their liberty, particularly those detained for reasons of migration, through the provision of free legal assistance and the promotion of access to justice and other guarantees of due process. The Committee also recommends that the State party should regularly produce and disseminate qualitative and quantitative information on any form of deprivation of liberty suffered by migrant workers and members of their families in the State party. Furthermore, it recommends that any detention for reasons of migration should be in full conformity with existing legislation, in particular the Convention, and should be subject to the principle of exceptionality and in accordance with general comment No. 2 (2013) on the rights of migrant workers in an irregular situation and members of their families.2016
Committee on Migrant Workers§55. The Committee urges the State party to take all necessary steps to safeguard the rights of the various categories of children and adolescents in the context of migration. In particular, it recommends that the State party: (a) Strengthen and deepen its cooperation with countries of transit and destination with a view to adopting policies and protocols designed to ensure that children’s rights in the context of migration are respected in practice; in particular, the State party should: (i) End the detention of children on grounds of their migration status or that of their parents; (ii) Devise alternatives — in law and in practice — to the detention of families and unaccompanied or separated minors, and ensure their implementation under the coordination of national and/or local organizations responsible for the comprehensive protection of children; [...]2016

Regional legal instruments Show sources
NameYear of Ratification (Treaty) / Transposed (Directive) / Adoption (Regulation)
ACHR, American Convention on Human Rights1977
IACFDP, Inter-American convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons2005
CBDP, Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women (Convention of Belem do Para)1995
APACHR, Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights2011

Visits by special procedures of the Human Rights Council Show sources
NameYear of VisitObservation Date
Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions20032015
Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance20042015
Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography20122015
Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences20142015
Working Group on arbitrary detention20062015
Relevant recommendations of the UN Universal Periodic Review Show sources
Recomendation IssuedYear IssuedObservation Date
No20152017
No2011

Institutions Expand all

Federal or centralized governing system Show sources
Federal or centralized governing systemObservation Date
Centralized system2015
Centralized or decentralized immigration authority Show sources
Centralized or decentralized immigration authorityObservation Date
Centralized immigration authority2014

Custodial authority Show sources
AgencyMinistryMinistry TypologyObservation Date
Instituto Nacional de Migracion2015
Instituto Nacional de MigracionSecretaría de Estado en los Despachos de Derechos Humanos, Justicia, Gobernación y Descentralización Justice2014
Detention Facility Management Show sources
Entity NameEntity TypeObservation Date
Instituto Nacional de MigracionGovernmental2014
Formally designated detention estate? Show sources
Formally designated immigration detention estate?Types of officially designated detention centresObservation Date
YesDedicated immigration detention facilities2015
Types of detention facilities used in practice Show sources
Immigration detention centre (Administrative)Immigration field office (Administrative)Transit centre (Administrative)Reception centre (Administrative)Offshore detention centre (Administrative)Hospital (Administrative)Border guard (Administrative)Police station (Criminal)National penitentiary (Criminal)Local prison (Criminal)Juvenile detention centre (Criminal)Informal camp (Ad hoc)Immigration detention centre (Ad hoc)Surge facility (Ad hoc)Observation Date
Yes2014

Authorized monitoring institutions Show sources
InstitutionInstitution TypeObservation Date
Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos HumanosNational Human Rights Institution (or Ombudsperson) (NHRI)2015
Does NHRI carry out visits? Show sources
Does NHRI carry out visits in practice?Observation Date
No2015

Estimated cost per detainees day (in USD) Show sources
Estimated cost per detainees day (in USD)Observation Date
122014

Socio Economic Data Expand all

Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD) Show sources
Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD)Observation Date
2,4342014
2,2912013
Remittances to the country Show sources
Remittances to the country (in millions USD)Observation Date
3,3292014
2,8732011
Remittances from the country Show sources
Remittances from the country (in millions USD)Observation Date
102010
Unemployment Rate Show sources
Unemployment RateObservation Date
3.92014
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in millions USD) Show sources
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in USD)Observation Date
603.92014
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP) Show sources
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)UNDP four-tiered rankingObservation Date
131Medium2015
129Medium2014

Additional Resources


Submission to the UN Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW): Honduras

Global Detention Project Submission to the UN Committee on Migrant Workers (CMW) 25th Session (29 August – 7 September 2016) Honduras   Geneva, August 2016   Issues concerning immigration detention The Global Detention Project (GDP) welcomes the opportunity to provide information relevant to the consideration of the initial report of Honduras (CMW/C/HHND/1 19 May 2016) […]

Immigration Detention in Honduras

Better known as the source of tens of thousands of undocumented children smuggled to North America in recent years, Honduras also has a long history detaining foreigners transiting its territory, at times with support from the United States. The country reportedly detained 2,526 migrants in 2013 and 1,198 in in 2012.

Submission to the Committee on Migrant Workers: List of Issues Prior to Reporting: Honduras

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