October 30, 2015
An 80% decrease in homicides in a Tegucigalpa neighborhood? It seems impossible in the country with the highest murder rate in the world, but it’s true, thanks to the work of the Association for a More Just Society (AJS). AJS’ lawyers, investigators, and psychologists build bridges of trust between community members and justice authorities. Community members trust that our staff will find honest police officers and public prosecutors who won’t be bribed by criminals. Police and public prosecutors are confident that AJS staff will help them find the evidence needed to keep the people they arrest in jail.
Last week, AJS officially launched this same project in the Northern Honduran city of San Pedro Sula. We talked with AJS coordinator Carlos Gomez, a former police detective himself, about the expansion:
AJS: Why did you think it would be a good idea to expand the project to San Pedro Sula?
CG: For the last 6 years, AJS’s methodology has worked in communities in Tegucigalpa, bringing peace and security into homes and neighborhoods. But, we saw that violence was continuing in other parts of the country. We wondered if our methodology could be successful in other vulnerable neighborhoods.
AJS: And why did you choose San Pedro Sula? It has one of the highest murder rates in the world at 193 per 100,000 people.
CG: Well, like I said, we wanted to try the methodology out in a different context to see if it would work, and what’s a better test than trying it in one of the most violent neighborhoods in one of the most violent cities in the world? If it will work there, it will work anywhere!
AJS: Tell us about last week’s project launch.
CG: After months of negotiations with authorities and donors we were finally able to launch the program last week. Both private business people and public officials from the police and the Attorney General’s office were there. We’re impressed by their level of support for our work!
AJS: What are the next steps for the project? How will you get started?
CG: We have hired two investigators, a lawyer, and a psychologist. Their next steps will be to build relationships with collaborators in the neighborhood who can help us map out where crime is happening. Then we’ll take on specific cases and work with community members to get justice.
AJS: Why do you think this work is important?
CG: This work is definitely risky, but it’s worth it. As citizens, we have to help the government make the justice system work.
Please pray for AJS staff as they continue to seek justice for the most vulnerable around Honduras!