Ever since Spanish conquistadors marauded into what is now Honduras five centuries ago, it has treated police security like a private privilege more than a public right. That’s a big reason — along with the U.S.’s insatiable demand for drugs — that Honduras and San Pedro Sula have in recent years suffered the highest homicide rates of any country or city in the world.
Honduras, for one, has the world’s highest murder rate. And according to the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime, “the homicide rate for male victims aged 15-29 in South America and Central America is more than four times the global average rate for that age group.”
San Pedro Sula lies in the north-east of the Central American country and is Honduras’ second largest metropolis but it has been ripped apart by the drugs trade and inhabitants’ desires to settle scores with guns. Daily homicide rates are the highest outside of officially recognised conflict zones.
Once a city with a healthy trade exporting bananas, its fortunes stalled after Hurricane Mitch severely damaged plantations in 1998 and production never recovered.
Reuters reported last year that San Pedro Sula is saddled with one of South America’s weakest economies – and nearly 70 per cent of the population live in poverty.
In his cramped office at the city’s morgue, Dr Vladimir Nunez explains that with five or six murder victims arriving at his gates every day there is neither the time nor the resources to investigate every death or calculate how many were victims of gang violence.
“Ten per cent or less are investigated and the rest are just forgotten for whatever reason,” he says simply. “No one can give exact statistics on how many are killed by gangs.”
Over the past decade, this nation of just over eight million people has witnessed a sharp increase in domestic and sexual violence and gender-based murder, a phenomenon known as femicide.
According to the University Institute for Democracy, Peace and Security in Honduras, 531 women were murdered in 2014, the majority of these aged between 15 and 24. Although this number was slightly lower than that of the previous year – there were 636 recorded murders of women in 2013 – the lack of accountability for this violation of a woman’s most basic human right has normalised the concept of femicide.
Between 2005 and 2013 the number of violent deaths of women increased by 263.4 per cent.
According to the Violence Observatory at the National Autonomous University of Honduras(NAUH) , Honduras being a country having only 8 million inhabitants ,an average of 20 people were murdered every day last year reports .In San Pedro Sula, the rate is 173, reportedly the highest in the world outside a war zone. That’s a murder rate of 85.5 per 100,000 residents, compared with 56 in Venezuela, 4.78 in the US and 1.2 in the UK.
The United Nations will open a human rights monitoring office in Honduras this year to guard against possible violations by security forces as they crack down on drug gangs, President Juan Hernandez said on Sunday.
The militarization of the Central American country has helped stem gang bloodshed Hernandez said, while disputing claims that his policy to “put a soldier on every corner” has resulted in a spike in rights violations.
His predecessor President Porfirio Lobo rolled out the military in 2012 to fight gangs, and Hernandez upped the offensive.
He said his country’s murder rate has dropped to about 55 per 100,000 residents from more than 86 two years ago.