The vast majority of Hondurans rely on public systems such as education, health, and security. However, Honduran government institutions are inefficient and full of corruption, meaning that these systems often fail to meet people’s basic rights or give them access to justice. We work to strengthen government systems by providing technical support and accountability to government institution, so that all Hondurans have access to basic services.
Auditing Government Institutions
Honduran government institutions have been known to be characterized by corruption and inefficiency, which prevents Hondurans from having access to basic services. This means that public hospitals don’t have medications to treat sick patients, children don’t have the quality education they deserve, and government officials charged with protecting their citizens hurt them instead.
In 2014, Transparency International and AJS signed an agreement with the Honduran government to investigate and audit government institutions most vulnerable to corruption. To do these evaluations, we first complete a thorough evaluation of each institution in areas such as their productivity, transparency, and human resources. By reviewing their procedures and practices, we are able to see the strengths and weaknesses of each institution and give them a performance score. We make this information available to the public, and then offer concrete recommendations and technical assistance to implement those changes.
When we first started these evaluations, Honduran institutions scored an average of 33%, revealing the ways in which many of these institutions were failing to serve the Honduran population. But after five years of AJS evaluations, the average score has improved by 30%! These evaluations continue year after year as we work towards making these changes possible.
Improving Public Health and Education Systems
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. Even though Honduras spent more per capita on education than any other Latin American country, test results were the lowest in Latin America. Honduran children were not receiving a quality education or being well-prepared for the future, and the majority of Hondurans were unable to receive proper medical attention or medication for treatable diseases.
While we work to call out corruption in the education and health sector and to create institutional change through government auditing, we also empower community members to bring about change in their local schools and health centers. We work with 150 community auditors to make sure teachers show up to school and health centers have the medications patients need. These empowered community members hold their local schools and health centers accountable and advocate for change in their community.
Advocating for Land Rights
Until recently, getting a land title in Honduras took 177 complicated administrative steps, a long chain of government agencies, and as long as six years. Due to these barriers, more than one million Honduran families lack titles for their land. Having a land title is an important step in living securely on your land, because the poor can easily be unjustly kicked off their land by the powerful.
AJS works to help Hondurans obtain a land title by accompanying individual cases. Our team helps review up to 10,000 land titles every year to make sure they are error-free, while also training community leaders in their rights under property law. At the same time, we work to improve the Property Institute to ensure that the institution is able to properly deliver land titles to the Honduran population. Through AJS’s technical support and plan for reforms, the Property Institute has implemented new, transparent procedures and overcome institutional inefficiencies, ultimately resulting in more secure living conditions for Hondurans.
Reforming Justice Systems
In addition to our work reforming the National Police, AJS is working on reforms to the Attorney General’s Office and the Judiciary branch to make access to justice quicker and more reliable. The criminal justice system is often so overloaded with cases that the majority of cases are left in impunity. Through changes in the case management, these institutions have dramatically increased the number of cases processed – lowering impunity, holding criminals accountable for their crimes, and strengthening rule of law. In one unit where these reforms were implemented, there was a 36% increase in convictions, and case backlogs decreased from over 1,400 to just 50 in nine months. Now, prosecutors and judges are better able to respond to criminal cases, helping more people get access to justice.