Photo Above: An AJS volunteer inspects a delivery to the central warehouse for public medicine in Honduras' capital city. One focus of AJS's anti-corruption efforts is the public health system.

According to Transparency International, corruption is “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It hurts everyone whose life, livelihood or happiness depends on the integrity of people in a position of authority."  Often, corruption means that public hospitals have no medications to treat sick patients, children don’t have teachers, and government officials charged with protecting their citizens hurt them instead.

Summary

Research and report acts of corruption, and push for change through practical proposals and legal action.

According to the most recent survey by Transparency International, Honduran experts think their country is more corrupt than 111 of the 168 countries surveyed.

AJS supports efforts that fight for transparency and government accountability from many angles (Select a title to find out more):

Injustice

Until recently, getting a land title in Honduras, along with the security it brings, took 177 complicated administrative steps, a long chain of government agencies, and as long as six years. Due to all these barriers, more than one million Honduran families lacked titles for their land. Though recent reforms, in theory, should significantly decreased the time and number of steps required to get a title, there are still problems: particularly as Honduras’s Property Institute is notoriously inefficient and corrupt. Transparency International ranked Honduras near the bottom in a study on the ease of registering property, suggesting the process remain laborious, inefficient, and expensive.

Not only has this made it extremely hard for poor Hondurans to get proper titles to land they occupy, it also allows well-connected and unscrupulous people who recognize the increasing value of land in Honduras to falsely claim large tracts of land poor people live on. These false landowners have filed lawsuits threatening poor residents’ attempts to get titles, have extorted exorbitant amounts of “rent” from them, and have even arrested, evicted, or destroyed the houses and property of inhabitants.

Doing Justice

AJS’s Land Rights project works on both the individual and the systemic level, walking alongside residents of vulnerable communities as they undergo the titling process, while also advocating for reform on a systemic level.

Seeing Results

AJS’s land rights lawyers help people obtain more than 5,500 property titles each year and have trained over 4,100 community leaders in their rights under property law, spreading knowledge of the titling process across Honduras. At the same time, they fight against the corruption that makes the process so difficult. In 2015, Land Rights staff filed 125 corruption cases against the Property Institute for failing to complete its responsibilities. Recent audits of thousands of titles presented by the Property Institute have demonstrated significant improvements.

Land titles have a real and lasting effect for the families who obtain them. One out of ten title owners will take out loans with their title as collateral to fund business ventures or home improvements. Increased ownership leads to stronger, more permanent neighborhoods. And finally, a title gives families the security of knowing their home will not be taken from them.

Click here for news and stories from this project.

Injustice

Honduras has had problems with media accuracy and objectivity, with many of its television channels and newspapers owned by just a few powerful families. This means that the truth, especially related to sensitive political or corruption issues, can be hidden or distorted.

Doing Justice

Revistazo is an online news source whose name is a play on words meaning both "another look" and a "big magazine." Revistazo is dedicated to carrying out in-depth investigative journalism on cases and issues that may be censored or ignored by the traditional media. It has become a credible source of information, cited by the traditional mass media, but also trusted as an alternative for the public who are tired of media controlled by powerful groups. Through its publications, Revistazo investigates government systems, offers commentary on political actions, and publishes interactive tools and databases that allow the public to be better informed about issues that most affect them. It's reporting also helps to disseminate information gathered by investigations by AJS's other projects.

Seeing Results

Revistazo has broken several enormous cases in the last few years, and has been an important public avenue for sharing research done in other AJS projects. Reports about blatant corruption in the Honduras’ Department of Health, for example, contributed to the immediate capture of six individuals and the reform of the entire system. Revistazo is a trusted news source, with other Honduran newspapers referencing their reports, and local and national governments responding to allegations with action.

Click here for news and stories from this project.

Injustice

Before 2010, children in Honduras met for school an average of only 125 days per year – far fewer than the 200 days required by law. Teachers showed up to teach sporadically, or not at all, without consequence. Though Honduras was spending more per capita on education than any other Latin American country, test results were the lowest in Latin America. Corruption and poor management in the education system was hurting Honduras’ future – its children.

Doing Justice

In 2009, AJS helped form Transformemos Honduras (“Let’s Transform Honduras”), a coalition bringing together organizations and groups of people from across Honduras to challenge corruption in some of Honduras’ most vulnerable sectors – education and health (see below). In education, Transformemos Honduras (TH) mobilized thousands of volunteers, mostly parents, to record students’ days in class and the attendance of their teachers. They used this information, along with detailed reports created by AJS investigators, to pressure the government for change.

Seeing Results

Education in Honduras has changed more quickly and positively than anyone thought possible. TH’s efforts prompted decisive change from the Honduran government, including the firing of the Minister of Education. As a result of these reforms, days in class jumped from 120 on average to over 200 – for three years in a row! Teachers missing from classrooms have dropped from 26% to 1%. These changes make a difference. Honduras’s third grade math test scores jumped five places in less than five years, now 10th out of 15 in Latin America. Children are learning more and learning better, and TH is continuing to monitor progress to ensure that this pattern of improvement continues.

Transformemos Honduras' Spanish language website can be accessed here.

 

Click here for news and stories from this project.

Injustice

Too often, corruption means that political systems designed to help people, don’t help them — and may even hurt them. In Honduras’ public health system, corruption killed. Millions of Hondurans cannot afford private health care, and they rely on Honduras’ public hospitals for care. But corruption and mismanagement in the hospitals’ medicine warehouses meant that medicines never arrived to treat the people who most needed care — and when medicine did arrive it was severly below acceptable quality.

Doing Justice

In 2009, AJS helped form Transformemos Honduras (“Let’s Transform Honduras”), a coalition bringing together organizations and groups of people from across Honduras to challenge corruption in some of Honduras’ most vulnerable sectors — health and education (see above). In health, TH investigators found suspiciously overvalued medicine purchases. Further investigation uncovered that these purchases were to “front” companies owned by wealthy, well-connected individuals. In 2010, TH issued a report detailing the Health Ministry’s use of “emergency drug purchases” to pay exorbitantly high prices to select drug companies. Research went further along the process in 2013, when TH and AJS' Advocacy and Legal Advice Center (ALAC) revealed that medical warehousing was plagued by theft and mishandling of sensitive medicines. These reports led to the arrest of the director of warehousing and 12 other implicated officials.

Seeing Results

TH’s brave and exhaustive investigations into the health sector led to a complete reform of the medicine purchasing system in Honduras. Purchases of medicines are now done through an independent bank, with the United Nations acting as a facilitator. TH continues to audit and monitor the system, verifying delivery of medicines and performing regular audits. More than that, TH acts as a social mobilizer, ensuring that the Honduran population is informed and involved in decisions that affect such an important aspect of their lives – their health and the health of their neighbors.

Transformemos Honduras' Spanish language website can be accessed here.

 

Click here for news and stories from this project.

Injustice

In a recent survey, nearly 26 percent of Hondurans said they were victims of corruption. However, in the same survey, only 37 percent of the people surveyed said they trusted the judicial system. With such high levels of corruption and low levels of trust in the judicial system, many victims of corruption choose not to report the crimes and see no hope for justice to be done.

Doing Justice

Transparency International, a global anti-corruption organization, has joined forces with AJS-Honduras, to open an Advocacy and Legal Advice Center (ALAC) which provides free and confidential legal advice to witnesses and victims of corruption. Many citizens fear that making complaints against powerful officials will put them in danger – ALAC enables them to call in anonymous tips that ALAC will then investigate and prosecute. ALAC also developed a smartphone app that citizens can use to report corruption and provide photos or other information to supplement the investigation.

Seeing Results

ALAC was part of convicting 13 officials for theft and corruption in the public medication distribution system — crimes that kept medicines from Hondurans who urgently needed them. In the last two years, ALAC has received convictions in 30 corruption cases, with dozens more in legal process. ALAC provides accountability and oversight in cases where corruption is suspected of judges or lawyers, thus ensuring that decisions can’t be bought.

Click here for news and stories from this project.

Injustice

Corruption has a human cost. When officials are appointed based on political favors, government services suffer. When judicial cases are decided based on bribes, criminals walk free. When money is stolen from public hospitals, people die from substandard care. Honduras is among the most corrupt countries in the Americas, Transparency International reports, making costs like this a daily reality for most Hondurans.

Doing Justice

Transparency International (TI) is a trusted international anti-corruption organization that works to reform government systems around the world. In 2013, they invited AJS to be their national chapter, a move that has enabled AJS to be even more effective in fighting corruption in Honduras. Notably, in 2014, AJS and TI signed an agreement with the Honduran government to investigate and audit some of the government sectors most vulnerable to corruption. These public reports reveal instances of corruption and expose vulnerabilities to corruption; they are an important form of accountability for the government.

Seeing Results

In November 2015, AJS — in its role as TI’s Honduran chapter — presented the first official results of the investigations initiated by the agreement. The reports highlighted severe gaps in purchasing and contracting procedure, the management of human resources, and the storage of important data. Government officials publically acknowledged the truth of the reports and vowed to institute reforms to address them. AJS/TI remains involved in monitoring the implementation of these reforms, which will make the Honduran government more efficient, more effective, and more accountable.

Click here for news and stories from this project.

DONATE
TODAY

Your generous donation will support work for justice in Honduras

Subscribe to Email Updates

Hear the stories. Learn the opportunities. Connect to the Justice Movement. We promise to keep you informed but not overwhelmed.

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

From the Justice Journal

A new headquarters will help AJS as we work to end corruption and violence, bringing hope and justice to Honduras.

logo-low-resolution-new.png

Association for a More Just Society (AJS)
PO Box 888631
Grand Rapids, MI 49588

info@ajs-us.org

1 (800) 897-1135