February 26, 2019
A group of U.S. broadcast journalists recently visited AJS in Honduras to learn more about what we are doing to reduce violence and corruption, two of the root causes of migration from Honduras.
Now we’re excited to share that our work to make Honduras a more just society is being featured on local television stations across the United States this month!
About 30 years ago, Kurt Ver Beek and his family moved to Honduras. As they got to know their neighbors, they became increasingly aware of an unaddressed problem: violence. One day, one of Kurt’s neighbors was brutally killed.
“A few months went by and ended up 13 more people got killed. That’s after we knew who the murderers were. We had a witness, but we didn’t know what to do with that.”
Kurt and his friend Carlos Hernández were compelled to stand up to violence in their community. Together they organized a team of brave Hondurans – a lawyer, a psychologist, and an investigator – to help victim’s families and murder witnesses feel safe enough to testify. They also provided technical support to improve the police’s investigations of crimes. Over time, murders in the neighborhood dropped from about 42 to a year to 8 a year!
Next, the AJS team decided to tackle the police, long known for being either corrupt or ineffective. Alongside other civil society groups, AJS participated in a national commission to purge and transform the national police.
The commission evaluated every single police officer, and as a result, Kurt reports,
“They’ve ended up firing over 5,000 out of a total of 13,000 cops. That’s almost half of the police force.”
Now the AJS team is working to make sure police officers operate ethically and effectively in Honduras. We invite you to watch and share this video as we continue the work of reducing violence and making systems work in Honduras. Thank you for supporting the work of these change-makers!