Honduras: 2014 State Department Report

From the 2014 State Department report:

Not Compliant with the Convention:  Honduras

Honduras demonstrated non-compliance with the Hague Convention in judicial, law enforcement, and central authority performance. Although Honduras improved its performance under the Hague Convention since being last cited in the 2011 Compliance Report, the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) observed markedly deteriorating compliance in 2013. The Honduran Central Authority (HCA) demonstrated delays in the processing of cases and slow response times to USCA inquiries. Information relayed to the USCA was sometimes incomplete and often failed to demonstrate serious engagement on cases.

Poor judicial and law enforcement compliance hinder the country's ability to comply with Hague Convention obligations. As a result, all three active U.S. return cases filed with the HCA have been pending for more than 18 months. The Honduran judiciary continues to treat Hague cases as custody matters, and significant delays in the processing of appeals by taking parents also inhibit case resolution. Furthermore, the HCA reports that efforts to locate children in Honduras are hampered by the underfunding of the HCA and its inability to elicit the assistance of law enforcement.

Unresolved Return Applications:

As of December 31, 2013, the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) had 111 applications for return that remained open and active for more than 18 months after the date of filing with the relevant foreign central authority in the countries listed below. The following section describes each unresolved case and the actions taken by the USCA to resolve. The actions taken by other authorities are also stated below, as reported to the USCA by the relevant entity.

Honduras, Case Summaries:

1.  In February 2012, the Honduran Central Authority (HCA) requested that the left-behind parent (LBP) undergo a home study. In May 2012, after the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) forwarded the home study on the LBP's behalf, the HCA requested that the study be authenticated with by apostille. The USCA objected that such requests are inconsistent with Convention obligations; however, the LBP had the document apostilled in July 2012. After several postponements, a hearing took place in November 2012. In May 2013, the HCA reported that the child was ordered returned under the Convention. The USCA requested, but did not receive, a copy of the ruling from the HCA. After receiving the ruling from the LBP's lawyer, the USCA learned that it denies the child's return but states that the child is at "social risk" with the taking parent. In December 2013, the USCA requested clarification of the ruling but the HCA had not responded as of the end of the reporting period. The USCA and U.S. Embassy Tegucigalpa have regularly requested updates from the HCA seeking clarity on the case status.

2.   The child has not yet been located. In August 2011 and August 2012, the Honduran Central Authority (HCA) requested the taking parent's address to locate the child. In August 2012, the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) passed the HCA information regarding the possible location of the child. In September 2012, the HCA informed U.S. Embassy Tegucigalpa that it needed a specific address. In September 2013, the USCA passed additional information to the HCA. The HCA stated that it would perform a search. In October 2013, the USCA's primary HCA point of contact left her post. Since that time, the HCA has not provided any updates on the status of the search. The USCA and U.S. Embassy Tegucigalpa have regularly requested updates from the HCA on the status of this case.

3.  The Honduran Central Authority (HCA) did not provide updates on this case until August 2012, when it reported that per a judge's request, apostilles were required on the application and all supporting documents. The U.S. Central Authority has expressed that this requirement appears to be inconsistent with Hague Abduction Convention to both the HCA and Honduran Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The HCA maintains that the case will not move forward without the fulfillment of the judge's request, and the left-behind parent has not yet apostilled the documents.

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