Human Rights First Condemns Trump Administration Finalizing Plan to Send Asylum-Seekers to Honduras
WASHINGTON – The Trump Administration Thursday reported that it is finalizing a plan to send people seeking asylum in the United States to Honduras as part of a so-called “safe third country” agreement. Human Rights First responded to this news condemning the agreement.
“It’s simply ludicrous for the Trump Administration to pretend that people seeking refuge will be safe in Honduras,” said Human Rights First’s Eleanor Acer. “Honduras has failed miserably to protect the lives and human rights of its own citizens. There is simply no credible reason to believe that Honduras will actually protect refugees seeking asylum from other countries – whether from Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua or elsewhere. Trump officials expect that asylum-seekers will simply abandon their requests for refuge, and given the acute dangers and lack of effective asylum protections in Honduras, many may very well do so.”
According to both U.S. and international law Honduras does not meet the legal requirements for a safe country for asylum-seekers. Asylum-seekers transferred to Honduras would be particularly vulnerable targets. The U.S. State Department reported that migrants, including refugees, are vulnerable to attacks by criminal groups there – groups that the Honduran government is unable or unwilling to control, particularly given rampant corruption and the ties between government officials and criminal entities in Honduras.
“Trump Administration officials should be pressing Honduras to address corruption and protect the safety and human rights of its own citizens so they no longer flee in search of protection,” said Acer. “Instead, Trump officials are arranging a ‘deal’ with Honduran government officials despite rampant corruption, promising financial assistance in turn for Honduras’ accepting third country asylum-seekers who will not actually be safe there. Not only does this agreement violate U.S. and international refugee law, but the entire deal stinks.”
Violence in Honduras is so widespread that the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center estimated that there were approximately 190,000 internally displaced people in Honduras. Asylum-seekers in Honduras are at risk, not only due to their inherent vulnerabilities as refugees, but also on account of their race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and for other reasons. Women, girls, and LGBT individuals face high levels of violence in Honduras. LGBT individuals who are victims of sexual violence have fled the country to seek protection elsewhere.
Between January and October 2017 alone, the Center for Women’s Rights recorded 236 violent deaths of women. The government has not had sufficient resources to investigate or prosecute the perpetrators. Indigenous people and communities of Afro-descent are also targets for threats and violence in Honduras. Human trafficking is widespread in Honduras and often causes internal displacement. The 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report for Honduras found that “women, children, LGBTI Hondurans, migrants, and individuals with low education levels are particularly vulnerable to trafficking.”
In addition, the country’s virtually non-existent asylum system does not have the ability to assess, adjudicate and manage the cases of the many Salvadoran, Nicaraguan, and other asylum-seekers that the Trump Administration plans to send there. The U.S. Department of State Human Rights Report revealed that the Honduran government had received 14 applications for asylum in 2017, of which it approved three.