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Country Reports
Honduras, Landmine Monitor Report 2003


Key developments since May 2002: In May 2003, mine clearance in Choluteca department was completed. The final clearance operation then began in El Paraíso department, and is scheduled for completion by year’s end.

Mine Ban Policy

Honduras signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997, ratified on 24 September 1998, and the treaty entered into force for the country on 1 March 1999. National implementation legislation, Decree No. 60-2000, was published in the Official Gazette on 29 June 2000.[1]

Honduras attended the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in September 2002, and also participated in the February and May 2003 meetings of the treaty’s intersessional Standing Committee.

Honduras had not submitted its annual Article 7 transparency report, originally due 30 April 2003, but a government official told Landmine Monitor that it would be submitted in July 2003.[2] It has provided three Article 7 reports to date.[3]

On 22 November 2002, Honduras voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 57/74, urging universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty.

Honduras is not a member to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) or its Amended Protocol II (Landmines), but it participated as an observer in the Fourth Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II in December 2002.

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling

Honduras has never produced or exported antipersonnel mines. On 2 November 2000, Honduras destroyed its stockpile of 7,441 antipersonnel mines.[4] It is retaining 826 antipersonnel mines (159 M-969, 469 M-4, and 198 FMK-1 mines) for training purposes.[5] None of these mines have yet been consumed.[6]

On 13 August 2002, Honduras returned 63 mines to the Army of Nicaragua. The mines were provided to the Army of Honduras in 1998 for the training of mine detection dogs, but were never used. The mines were destroyed by Nicaragua on 28 August 2002.[7]

Landmine Problem

Landmines were planted during the 1980s by combatants in the Nicaragua conflict on both sides of the Nicaragua/Honduras border. More than 2,000 mines have been cleared and destroyed on the Honduran side of the border.[8] None of the mines cleared in Honduras have been located more than a few hundred meters from the frontier. The government maintains that all suspected mine-affected areas have been marked and properly recorded.[9]

In its August 2001 Article 7 Report, Honduras identified four departments as mine-affected: Choluteca, Cortes, El Paraíso, and Olancho.[10]

Mine clearance of San Andres de Bocay in Olancho department took place between October 1998 and April 1999.[11] Mine clearance in Canoas and Santa Catalina in Choluteca department was completed on 12 May 2003.[12]

The Organization of American States (OAS) does not view Cortes as truly mine-affected, but the accidental explosion of a munitions storage area several years ago contaminated a wide area near the facility with unexploded munitions of various types, so the area requires clearance operations.[13] An investigation of mine clearance requirements at Cortes took place on 28 May 2003, but the clearance operation will not start until security measures are established.[14]

The last mine clearance operation in the country began in May 2003, in El Paraíso department.[15]

Mine Action Funding and Assistance

The OAS Unit for the Promotion of Democracy, through the Integral Action against Antipersonnel Mines Program (Acción Integral Contra las Minas Antipersonal, AICMA), is responsible for coordinating and supervising the Assistance Program for Demining in Central America (Programa de Asistencia al Desminado en Centroamérica, PADCA), with the technical support of the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB). The IADB is responsible for organizing a team of international supervisors in charge of training and certification, known as the Assistance Mission for Mine Clearance in Central America (Misión de Asistencia para la Remoción de Minas en Centroamérica, MARMINCA). AICMA and MARMINCA have mine action programs in Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.

In Honduras, the Army (ALFA team) and AICMA are responsible for demining operations, with supervision and verification provided by MARMINCA.

In 2002, the budget for the Honduras program was US$650,456.[16] Army and Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials told Landmine Monitor that funding and technical difficulties related to the clearance program that arose in 2002 have been overcome.[17] In 2003, OAS/AICMA is contributing $800,000: $200,000 for each three-month period until the end of the year, when the demining operation should be concluded.[18] These funds are supplemented by a contribution from Taiwan of about $294,000 for demining.[19] During its fiscal year 2002, the United States contributed $1.695 million to the OAS/IADB for its mine action activities in Central America, including Honduras.[20]

Honduras has contributed military mine action supervisors to the MARMINCA program since 1998, including four in 2002 and four in 2003.[21]

In June 2003, Nicaragua’s Minister of Defense announced that 840 soldiers from Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic would carry out mine clearance and humanitarian assistance in central and southern Iraq as part of an international force under Spanish command and paid for by the United States.[22] The OAS has cautioned that landmines in Iraq are quite different from those known in Central America and soldiers may face problems in clearance operations.[23] There are also concerns that the domestic mine clearance goals will be set back or delayed by the loss of such a large number of deminers.

Mine Clearance and Mine Risk Education

In 2002, a total of 16,700 square meters of mine-affected land were cleared, destroying 20 landmines and two pieces of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Canoas and Guasaule in Choluteca department.[24] According to AICMA/Honduras, planned clearance along the Nicaraguan border in 2002 was not completed because of a number of problems: technical difficulties with metal detectors; communication problems between the deminers, the military hospital and the Air Force; difficulties in detecting landmines buried 25-40 centimeters deep, which required special equipment; and detection of antivehicle mines that had shifted following Hurricane Mitch.[25]

In 2003, the demining program in Honduras employed seventy deminers trained by the IADB; thirty support soldiers, four mine detection dogs and a team of five international supervisors (three from Colombia, one from Guatemala and one from Brazil).[26]

In January 2003, Foreign Affairs Minister Guillermo Pérez Cadalso announced a donation of some $294,000 from the government of Taiwan that would be used to clear an area of 49,250 square meters in the departments of Choluteca and El Paraíso, on the border with Nicaragua. Some 260 peasant families will be able to return to their homes in Santa Catarina and Las Canoas in Choluteca department, and in San José de la Lodosa in El Paraíso department.[27]

Mine clearance in Las Canoas and Santa Catalina was completed on 12 May 2003.[28] In May 2003, the last clearance operation started in San José de la Lodosa. The affected area is estimated at 15,000 square meters.[29] An official with AICMA/Honduras told Landmine Monitor that the demining operation is due to conclude at the end of 2003.[30] A Ministry of Foreign Affairs official cautioned that there could be difficulties detecting landmines buried more than 25 centimeters deep at the Rio Negro in La Lodosa. The official also noted that the border with Nicaragua could continue to be a problem due to the natural dislodgement of landmines laid in Nicaragua.[31]

The Central American Bank for Economic Integration supports an OAS mine risk education program in Honduras and Nicaragua.[32] The Army and AICMA carry out the program using materials such as books, pencils and bags with mine risk education messages.[33] In 2002, approximately 600 people received risk education in Choluteca department. Efforts in 2003 will focus on children living in La Lodosa, El Paraíso department.[34]

Landmine Casualties and Survivor Assistance

In 2002, no new landmine casualties were reported in Honduras.[35] The last reported mine incident occurred on 18 March 2001, when a Honduran civilian attempting to cross into Nicaragua to hunt, lost his leg and an eye when he stepped on a landmine on the Nicaraguan side of the border. In September 1995, Honduran officials estimated that over 200 civilians had been killed in landmine incidents since 1990.[36]

Landmine survivors in Honduras have access to services provided to all persons with disabilities, including community-based rehabilitation programs and economic reintegration programs.[37] There are 18 specialist healthcare units offering comprehensive rehabilitation services to persons with disabilities.[38]

In 2002, the orthopedic workshop at the San Felipe General Hospital in Tegucigalpa produced or repaired 732 devices, including production of 125 prostheses.[39]

Handicap International Belgium (HIB) provided support to the San Pedro Sula orthopedic workshop in 2002; however, the main focus of their work was assisting in the reintegration of persons with disabilities into the community through capacity building of local disability associations. In 2002, the San Pedro Sula workshop produced 108 prostheses. The HIB program concluded at the end of 2002, but a new local NGO, Handicap Honduras, was created to continue the work.[40]

On 20 February 2003, a new prosthetic outreach center for the treatment of war victims, including landmine survivors, called “Vida Nueva” (New Life), opened in Choluteca. The center is supported by the Polus Center for Social and Economic Development, a US NGO, with financial support provided by a private Canadian charity, Grapes for Humanity, and the US Department of State. It is modeled after the Walking Unidos center in Leon, Nicaragua, founded by the Polus Center.[41]

In April 2003, a joint program by Canada, Mexico, and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) for the rehabilitation of landmine survivors in Honduras came to an end. This joint program is carried out in Trojes and Alauca in El Paraíso department, and San Marcos de Colón in Choluteca department. Approximately 40 disabled persons and their families (approximately 400 persons) benefited from the program’s family support projects, medical services, supply of prosthesis for the disabled persons and social and labor reintegration.[42]

Honduras has laws on the rights of persons with disabilities.[43]

[1] “Law for the Prohibition of Production, Purchase, Sale, Import, Export, Transit, Use, Possession and Transfer of Antipersonnel Mines and Antihandling Devices or Parts of those Artefacts” (Ley para la Prohibición de la Producción, Compra, Venta, Importación, Exportación, Tránsito, Utilización, Posesión y Transferencia de Minas Antipersonales y de Dispositivos Antidetectores o de Partes de tales Artefactos). Landmine Monitor has a copy of Decree 60-2000. Penal sanctions include imprisonment of three to five years. Telephone interview with Octavio Salomon Nuñez, Director of Special Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Honduras, 4 July 2003.
[2] Telephone interview with Octavio Salomon Nuñez, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 4 July 2003.
[3] See Article 7 Report, 11 April 2002 (for an unspecified time period); Article 7 Report, 10 August 2001 (for the period 3 December 2000-10 August 2001); Article 7 Report, 30 August 1999 (for the period 1998-1999).
[4] Article 7 Report, Forms B and G, 10 August 2001. This report also states that Law 92-98 was published in the Official Gazette on 29 August 1998, ordering the destruction of all stockpiled landmines, and that on 1 September 2000, the Senior Chief of Staff announced the Plan of Destruction of Stockpiled Landmines, which was executed in the period from 30 October to 2 November 2000. Article 7 Report, Form A, 10 August 2001.
[5] Article 7 Report, Form D, 10 August 2001. There were significant discrepancies between the stockpile numbers reported in Honduras’ 1999 Article 7 Report, and the numbers later reported as destroyed. See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 350. A Honduran official has confirmed that the latter figures are correct. Telephone interview with Octavio Salomon Nuñez, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 23 July 2002.
[6] Interview with Fredy Rene Pineda, Commandant of the Alfa Team, Army of Honduras, Guatemala, 23 January 2003.
[7] AICMA/Honduras, “Report of activities on Demining: July/September 2002,” Tegucigalpa, 2002.
[8] Email to Landmine Monitor (HRW) from William McDonough, Coordinator, PACDA, Organization of American States (OAS), 24 July 2001.
[9] Article 7 Report, Form I, 10 August 2001.
[10] Article 7 Report, Form C, 10 August 2001.
[11] Email to Landmine Monitor from Miguel Barahona, Coordinator, AICMA/Honduras, 3 July 2003.
[12] Telephone interview with Miguel Barahon, AICMA/Honduras, 3 July 2003.
[13] Email to Landmine Monitor (HRW) from William McDonough, PACDA, OAS, 5 August 2002.
[14] Telephone interview with Miguel Barahona, AICMA/Honduras, 3 July 2003.
[15] Interview with General Carl Freeman, Junta Interamericana de Defensa (IADB), Tegucigalpa, 25 February 2003.
[16] Interview with Octavio Salomón Nuñez, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tegucigalpa, 2 February 2003.
[17] Interview with Fredy Rene Pineda, Commandant of the Alfa Team, 23 January 2003; interview with Octavio Salomón Nuñez, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2 February 2003.
[18] Interview with Miguel Barahona, AICMA/Honduras, 31 March 2003.
[19] Ibid. According to a media report, Taiwan donated $294,768 on 28 January 2003 at a ceremony attended by Honduran Foreign Affairs Minister Guillermo Augusto Pérez-Cadalso and the Taiwanese Ambassador You Tien-der. “Honduras concluirá desminado en la frontera con Nicaragua,” La Tribuna (Tegucigalpa), 29 January 2003.
[20] US Department of State, “Congressional Budget Justifications: Foreign Operations, Fiscal Year 2004,” 3 February 2003. See also, US Department of State, “To Walk the Earth in Safety,” September 2002.
[21] Interview with Fredy Rene Pineda, Commandant of the Alfa Team, 23 January 2003; interview with Octavio Salomón Nuñez, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2 February 2003.
[22] “Enviará Centroamérica unos 840 soldados a reconstrucción de Irak,” Notimex (Managua), 12 June 2003.
[23] “OEA prevé dificultades para soldados del istmo,” La Prensa Gráfica (San Salvador), 17 June 2003.
[24] Email to Landmine Monitor (HRW) from Carl Case, OAS Mine Action Program, 23 July 2003.
[25] Interview with Miguel Barahona, AICMA/Honduras, 14 January 2003.
[26] Interview with Miguel Barahona, AICMA/Honduras, 31 March 2003.
[27] Office of the President press release, “Taiwan done 294 mil dólares para concluir desminado en Honduras,” 28 January 2003.
[28] Telephone interview with Miguel Barahon, AICMA/Honduras, 3 July 2003.
[29] Email from Carl Case, OAS Mine Action Program, 23 July 2003; interview with General Carl Freeman, IADB, 25 February 2003.
[30] Interview with Miguel Barahona, AICMA/Honduras, 31 March 2003.
[31] Telephone interview with Octavio Salomón Nuñez, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 3 July 2003.
[32] OAS, “Informe del Secretario General sobre la implementación de las Resoluciones 1745 (apoyo a PADEP) y 1751 (apoyo a PADCA),” 7 May 2001.
[33] Interview with Miguel Barahona, AICMA/Honduras, 31 March 2003.
[34] Telephone interview with Miguel Barahona, AICMA/Honduras, 2 July 2003.
[35] Interview with Fredy Rene Pineda, Commandant of the Alfa Team, Army of Honduras, 23 January 2003; interview with Octavio Salomón Nuñez, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2 February 2003; interview with Miguel Barahona, AICMA/Honduras, 14 January 2003.
[36] See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 352.
[37] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 295.
[38] Handicap International Belgium (HIB), “State of the World’s Disabled People: Gathering information in 16 different countries 2000-2001,” December 2002, p. 32.
[39] Email from Handicap Honduras to HIB, 22 July 2003.
[40] HIB, “Activity report 2002,” p. 19.
[41] US Department of State press release, “US Hails Honduran Rehabilitation Center for War Victims,” 21 February 2003; email to Landmine Monitor (Nicaragua) from Stephen Meyers, International Programs Coordinator, Polus Center for Social & Economic Development, 28 April 2003.
[42] Telephone interview with Emilio Ramirez Pinto, Coordinator, Canada-Mexico-Paho Joint Program, 4 July 2003.
[43] Handicap International, “Landmine Victim Assistance: World Report 2002,” Lyon, December 2002, pp. 406-407.