Honduras has one of the highest rates of corruption in the world, receiving a score of 26 out of 100 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. Politicians and elites are able to use their power for personal gain, while the Honduran public is left without access to the services they so desperately need. We research and report acts of corruption, while pushing for transparency and open access to information.
Advocating for Transparent Systems
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.” A lack of transparency ultimately hurts the Honduran people, who are unable to access basic services like education or health. Through both research and advocacy on cases of corruption, we are working to build transparent systems that serve the Honduran people.
Corruption in the public health sector means that poor Hondurans, who are dependent on public hospitals, are unable to access the medications or medical care needed to treat their sickness. Our team helped discover suspiciously overvalued medicine purchases from companies owned by wealthy, well-connected individuals. Medical warehousing was plagued by theft and mishandling of sensitive medicines. The publication of these reports led to the arrest of 13 officials, including the vice president of Congress. This work led to a complete reform of the medicine purchasing system in Honduras, which is now done through an independent bank with the supervision of the United Nations. By continuing to call out corruption in medicine purchasing, we’re helping make it possible for Hondurans to get access to life-saving medications and treatment.
AJS helped discover how corruption was preventing Honduran children from getting the education they deserve. Although 200 days of class are required by law, children in Honduras met for school an average of only 125 days per year, significantly preventing their opportunities for learning. Additionally, 26% teachers that were on the payroll weren’t in the classroom. Because of corruption and poor management, Honduras was spending more per capita on education than any other Latin American country, but their test results were the lowest in Latin America. Ultimately, this hurtsHonduras’ future – its children. By making these reports public and working with the Ministry of Education, we helped open up an opportunity for education reform: days in class have increased to over 200 on average, and teachers missing from classrooms have dropped from 26% to 1%. We continue to push for a quality education so that Honduras’ children have opportunities for a bright future.
We push for transparency in the naming of public officials, as they are the ones shaping decisions that affect all of society. During the latest election for the Attorney General, our network of Brave Christians (a group of Christians dedicated to standing up for justice) mobilized a campaign to pray for an Attorney General rooted in justice. We published reports on AG candidates to help enable a transparent election process. Following the highly-contested elections of 2017, we have been advocating for national electoral reforms that would impact the national system and lead the way towards trustworthy elections.
Creating Open Access to Information
Media accuracy and objectivity is a challenge in Honduras, 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.
AJS runs an online media publication called Revistazo, 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. Their interactive tools and online databases allow the public to be better informed about issues that most affect them.
Revistazo has helped break several enormous cases in the last few years, including reports about blatant corruption in Honduras’ health sector that contributed to the immediate arrest of public officials and the reform of the entire system. Their “Open Businesses” tool helped uncover fraudulent and overvalued solar energy contracts. They’ve also created online tools to understand changes to Honduras’ penal code, explain the prevalence of sexual abuse in Honduras, and provide open information about candidates for Attorney General.
Enabling Citizens to Denounce Corruption
Over 1/4 of Hondurans were victims of corruption in the past year, but many do not trust that they will ever see justice for those crimes. Three-fourths of Hondurans distrust the government, preventing many people from even reporting crimes.
AJS provides free and confidential legal advice to witnesses and victims of corruption. People can submit anonymous tips that the AJS team will investigate and prosecute, even through a smartphone app!