Honduras: Still Noncompliant, 2010 Report

Below is the U.S. State Department's report on Honduras' continued noncompliance with the Hague Convention on International Child Abductions.  

The Department finds Honduras not compliant with the Convention in FY 2009. The USCA noted that, while communication with the Honduran Central Authority (HCA) improved in FY 2009, the HCA made little progress toward meeting its obligations under the Convention. The USCA is handling five cases of abducted children in Honduras, three of which have been open for less than 18 months, and two of which are longstanding and included in the "Unresolved Return Applications" section at page 46 this report. 

The two longstanding cases illustrate the systemic institutional weakness of the HCA, the judicial system, and law enforcement authorities in processing applications for return of abducted children under the Convention. One case was not assigned to a court until 48 months after the LBP filed the Convention application with the HCA. At the end of the fiscal year, 75 months had elapsed, with no decision from the court on jurisdiction under the Convention. The HCA failed to provide the USCA with minimal information on the status of the case, and Embassy Tegucigalpa protested by diplomatic note. After the USCA followed up with multiple requests for the status of the case, the HCA indicated that it was not possible to give an estimate of how long the court would take to reach a decision, as resolution depended on the jury. The HCA also advised the USCA that the psychological studies which the HCA had contracted while the court case was in process indicated that it was in the best interests of the child to stay in Honduras.

In the other longstanding case, more than four years have elapsed since the case was assigned to a court, and nearly three have passed since the judge ordered the child returned. During this time, the LBP and her brother have worked tirelessly to recover the child, traveling to Honduras to take custody of the child and staying in contact with USCA and Embassy Tegucigalpa. The prosecutor's office indicated shortly after the judge ordered the child's return that it would not authorize removal of the child from the TP's residence until temporary custody was granted in Honduras, evidencing these authorities' lack of understanding of the intended operation of the Convention. Other Honduran entities have followed the prosecutor's lead in this case, despite the USCA's multiple protests, including a diplomatic note and numerous efforts by Embassy Tegucigalpa to discuss this case and other cases with the HCA.

Honduras has not passed the implementing legislation for the Convention,which could help Honduras more fully meet its Convention obligations. The Honduran Congress had introduced a decree to approve the "National Law to Resolve International Child Abduction Cases" before the end of FY 2007, but the decree still languished in the Honduran Congress throughout FY 2009. In FY 2009, another draft bill was introduced in the Honduran Congress that would implement the Convention, but the legislation has likewise still not been passed.

The HCA proactively facilitated a voluntary return in one case, arranging the logistics and escorting an LBP to the TP's home several hours' drive from the capital to retrieve the abducted child. Three newer return applications filed during FY 2009, however, followed the same pattern as the longstanding cases mentioned above. One of the cases still awaits assignment to a court after 13 months, and another after nine months. The HCA assigned the third case to a court, but the court ordered psychosocial studies to be conducted. Meanwhile, the child has been kept away from the LBP for nearly a year.

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