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Non-state actors

Private Military and/or Security Companies

There is a large private security sector in Honduras, including foreign corporations or their affiliates, security companies which are fully registered as such under Honduran law, and many unregistered or illegal security providers, including vigilante-style operators. In its 2007 Honduras Report (see below), the UN Human Rights Council's Working Group on Mercenaries estimated that, counting both legally registered private guards and vigilantes, there were between 20,000 and 70,000 people employed in private security in Honduras, compared with a National Police force of 12,000 and the uniformed Preventive Police force of 7,300. Thus, there were at least as many private security personnel as police, and possibly more than three times as many. The Honduran Association of Private Security and Investigation Companies reports having 33 security companies in its membership, representing only a portion of the legally registered providers, and that they employ a total of 18,000 people.

The Ministry of Security maintains a register of legally constituted private security companies which, in 2007, numbered 123. However, the Honduran Association of Private Security and Investigation Companies estimated the total number of such companies operating in Honduras was more than 350 (UN Working Group report, para. 40). According to the Ministry of Security in its communications with the Working Group on Mercenaries in 2006-2007, the four main private security operators were:
  • The Golan Group, which, according to its own website, is a US-registered global security company with offices in Israel, Guatemala, El-Salvador, Mexico, Honduras and Venezuela,
  • InterSec Security,
  • InterCom and
  • Walking Hound.
The UN Working Group noted that none of these companies were, at that time, listed in the Ministry of Security's register of legally constituted private security companies, and that two of them were also not listed in the public business register. The Report found that, although legal regulation of the industry existed on paper, the practices varied greatly, resulting in a lack of control over the range of activities private security companies could carry out and also the type of weapons they obtained and used. The Report expressed grave concern that the state was not exercising sufficient control over private military and/or security companies to ensure the protection of human rights within its territory and to meet its international obligations. Furthermore, it noted that Honduran law allowed individuals to engage up to 100 security personnel for their personal needs, without any form of registration.

The UN Working Group was  particularly concerned by two situations:
  • A programme of recruitment and training of both Hondurans and other nationals for service as security guards in Iraq. This was undertaken by the Honduran registered  company, Your Solutions Honduras SRL, as an agent for the Illinois-based company Your Solutions Inc., which in turn was subcontracted to the US-based company, Triple Canopy. Triple Canopy, for its part, had contracted with the US administration to provide security guards for the "Green Zone" in Baghdad, Iraq. In addition to its concerns about the Hondurans so recruited, the Working Group was concerned with the fact that 105 Chileans entered Honduras on tourist visas for military-style training. These included eight instructors and 97 recruits, "all of whom left the country by plane, presumably illegally via San Pedro Sula and bound for Iraq." The UN Working Group asked the Honduran authorities to look into these events and consider whether these alleged activities and means of departure could have violated the Honduran Criminal Code, especially Art. 317 concerning offences which endanger the peace, external security or dignity of the nation, and which punishes "anyone who recruits troops in Honduras to serve a foreign nation, for any purpose whatsoever". The Report also suggested these activities may have violated criminal provisions relating to arms control, abuse of power, use of weapons, involvement of foreign ex‑soldiers in activities of a military nature and unlawful association.
  • The second issue of special concern was that on 29 August 2006 the Government had apparently approved a policy whereby 30,000 private security guards were to provide backup to the state police and armed forces in fighting crime in Honduras. This policy apparently allowed private guards to take action, including opening fire, on lawbreakers attempting robbery (UN Working Group report, para. 71. See also National legislation section, under "Military and Police Law").
The UN Working Group report concluded that there was an:
"...alarming situation in which the State of Honduras has ceded part of its sovereignty in respect of internal security, and apparently continues to do so... [and, in the opinion of the Working Group] the State has shown negligence in so delegating its own powers." (para. 70)
It recommended that the government:
"set up an authority over the Ministry of Security, either a parliamentary committee or a commissioner, which would have the power to monitor the activities of private security companies and which could receive complaints."(para. 73)
In 2007, on the recommendation of the Working Party, Honduras became a party to the International Convention Against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries (by Decree 133-2007 of 15 December 2007 - see National legislation section). It is  aimed at the prevention, eradication, judgment and punishment of the crimes of recruitment, use, financing and training of mercenaries. Mercenaries are defined the same as in the Geneva Conventions and so they must be non-nationals of a party to an armed conflict, recruited to fight (not just to provide passive security) and for the motive of personal gain. Those engaged in these crimes must be brought to court for punishment or otherwise object of extradition. The law also refers to the fight to eradicate international illicit activities that are associated with drug trafficking and mercenaries, and violent acts that undermine the constitutional order of the States.
2007 Honduras Report, the UN Working Group on Mercenaries
Honduras links
Sunday, 23 October 2016
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