1. The Committee
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considered the initial report
of Honduras on the implementation of the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (E/1990/5/Add.40) at its 5th,
6th and 7th meetings (E/C.12/2001/SR.5-7), held on 25 and 26 April
2001, and adopted, at its 25th meeting (E/C.12/2001/SR.25) held on
9 May 2001, the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee
welcomes the initial report of the State party, which was in general
prepared in conformity with the Committee's guidelines, although submitted
after many years' delay. The Committee welcomes in particular the
open and frank nature of the constructive dialogue with the delegation
and its willingness to answer the questions posed by the Committee.
B. Positive Aspects
3. The Committee
notes with satisfaction the assertion by the State party that the
Covenant is part of national law and that it can be invoked before
a court of law, although the delegation was not able to provide any
examples of case law.
4. The Committee
also notes with appreciation the State party's declaration of its
support for an optional protocol to the Covenant.
5. The Committee
takes note with satisfaction of the establishment of institutions,
such as the Fiscalías Especiales de Derechos Humanos, the Instituto
Nacional de la Mujer, the Consejerías de la Familia and
the Ombudsman, and the adoption of important laws in the field
of human rights, such as the Ley de Igualdad de Oportunidades entre
el Hombre y la Mujer, the Ley contra la Violencia Doméstica
and the Ley sobre la Salud Reproductiva.
6. The Committee
takes note with appreciation of the family subsidy programmes that
are intended to benefit the poorest and most vulnerable groups of
the population, in particular children under five years of age, pregnant
women and nursing mothers, and elderly persons.
7. The Committee
also notes with appreciation that the percentage of the national budget
allocated to education has increased continuously in the period 1996-2001
(from 12.95 per cent to 22.76 per cent).
8. The Committee
notes with satisfaction that during the period 1996-2000, 345 basic
education centres were created in the 18 regions of the country.
C. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the Covenant
9. The Committee
takes note that the efforts of the State party to comply with its
obligations under the Covenant are impeded by the fact that it is
classified as a highly indebted poor country and that up to 40 per
cent of its annual national budget is allocated to foreign debt servicing.
10. The Committee
also acknowledges that the structural adjustment policies in the State
party have negatively affected the enjoyment of economic, social and
cultural rights by the population, especially the vulnerable and marginalized
groups of society.
11. The Committee
notes that the serious problem of poverty in the State party has been
aggravated by the devastating effects of hurricane Mitch in October
1998 on the infrastructure and productive sectors, and that the State
party is still in the process of recovering.
D. Principle subjects of concern
12. The Committee
is concerned about the lack of adequate human rights training in the
State party, in particular the rights guaranteed in the Covenant and
in the Constitution, especially among the judiciary and other actors
responsible for the implementation of the Covenant.
13. The Committee
expresses its concern about the de facto inequality that exists between
men and women in Honduran society - despite legislative guarantees
of equality - which is particularly reflected in unequal wages for
equal work, and the low-level of representation of women in public
services and administration.
14. The Committee
is concerned about the persisting discrimination against indigenous
populations, especially in the field of employment, and the protection
of traditional ancestral and agricultural lands.
15. The Committee
is concerned about the lack of legislative and administrative measures
by the State party to control the negative effects of transnational
companies' activities on the employment and working conditions of
Honduran workers and to ensure compliance with national labour legislation.
Examples of such negative impacts are the low level of wages and the
substandard working conditions in the maquilas (assembly plants),
in particular those employing primarily women workers.
16. The Committee
is particularly concerned about the very low number of labour inspectors
and their inability to fulfil their responsibilities adequately due
to reported restrictions that limit their access to enterprises and
other work places subject to inspection.
17. The Committee
expresses its grave concern about the fact that the minimum wage of
workers is insufficient to provide for an adequate standard of living
in the State party.
18. The Committee
is also concerned about the insufficient level of protection by the
State party to trade unions seeking to conduct labour negotiations
with foreign employers, particularly given the large number of workers
in unions. In addition, the Committee deeply regrets that the law
prohibits the presence of more than one trade union in a single enterprise.
19. The Committee
expresses its concern about the fact that the social security system
covers less than one third of the population, especially as it excludes
the groups in society with no income at all. In this regard, the Committee
is concerned about the fact that the State party has not ratified
the relevant International Labour Organization Conventions concerning
social security (Nos. 102, 117 and 118).
20. The Committee
is alarmed about the high number of children who are forced to work
to support themselves, and in particular about the serious situation
of street children and the existence of street gangs (maras).
In this regard, the Committee is also gravely concerned about the
high incidence of sexual abuse, exploitation and prostitution of children
in the State party, and about the lack of a national plan to address
21. The Committee
expresses its concern about the extent of domestic violence and the
apparent inability of the State party to implement legislation against
this phenomenon, particularly due to the lack of appropriate training
of police and other law enforcement officials.
22. The Committee
regrets the lack of a national housing strategy, given damage caused
to the infrastructural situation by hurricane Mitch.
23. The Committee
is concerned about the occurrence of forced evictions, especially
among peasants and indigenous populations and in the areas where mining
activities are conducted, without adequate compensation or appropriate
24. The Committee
is particularly concerned about the extremely negative effects of
the use of pollutants and toxic substances in specific agricultural
and industrial sectors, such as banana growing and gold-mining, on
the environment, thereby putting at risk the health and lives of workers
and those living in the vicinity of the affected areas. In this regard,
the Committee is also concerned that environmental impact studies
conducted by or on behalf of those sectors are without effective review
by independent bodies.
25. The Committee
deeply regrets the lack of measures by the State party to address
effectively the problem of excessive deforestation, which negatively
affects the habitat of indigenous populations.
26. The Committee
is concerned about the insufficiency of medical services, especially
in rural areas, and the difficulties experienced by people in gaining
access to health care institutions. The Committee also expresses its
deep concern about the high incidence of HIV/AIDS in the State party,
which is among the highest in the region, and the inadequate information
provided by the State party on the measures it has taken with regard
to the provision of essential drugs.
27. The Committee
also expresses its concern about the problems encountered by the State
party in its efforts to implement its reproductive health policy,
including the distribution and use of condoms, as a result of resistance
by certain religious institutions, and the fact that educational programmes
often only target women. In this regard, the Committee is also concerned
about the high rate of teenage pregnancy and that those girls are
deprived of the opportunity to continue their education.
28. The Committee
regrets the high rate of illiteracy of 19.5 per cent recognized by
the State party's delegation.
29. The Committee
expresses its concern about the limited possibilities for indigenous
peoples to be educated and to have access to the judicial system in
their native languages.
E. Suggestions and recommendations
30. The Committee
strongly urges the State party to ensure that the Covenant is taken
into account in the formulation and implementation of all policies
concerning economic, social and cultural rights.
31. The Committee
recommends that the State party improve human rights training programmes
in such a way as to ensure better knowledge, awareness and application
of the Covenant and other international human rights instruments,
in particular among the judiciary, law enforcement officials and other
actors responsible for the implementation of the Covenant.
32. The Committee
urges the State party to implement existing legislation more vigorously
and to incorporate a gender perspective in legislation, with a view
to ensuring greater equality of men and women, especially in the areas
of employment, labour conditions, and representation in public services
33. The Committee
recommends that the State party recognize the economic, social and
cultural rights of indigenous populations as a distinct minority group
and ensure more effective protection against discrimination, especially
in the field of employment, health and education.
34. The Committee
also recommends that the State party explicitly take the Covenant
into account in relation to the policies, programmes and projects
deriving from its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, which forms part
of the enhanced Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative. In this
regard, the State party is referred to the statement on poverty adopted
by the Committee on 4 May 2001.
35. The Committee
urges the State party to conclude its adoption of the Labour Code.
36. The Committee
strongly recommends that the State party implement existing legislative
and administrative measures to avoid violations of environmental and
labour laws by transnational companies.
37. The Committee
urges the State party to increase the number of its labour inspectors,
and to ensure the full exercise of their authority in workplaces.
38. The Committee
strongly urges the State party to adopt and implement legislative
and other measures to protect workers from the occupational health
hazards resulting from the use of toxic substances - such as pesticides
and cyanide - in the banana-growing and gold-mining industries.
39. The Committee
strongly recommends that the State party expand its social security
system to encompass low-income groups and informal sector groups,
which are presently excluded. In addition, the Committee recommends
that the State party ratify the relevant ILO Conventions (Nos. 102,
117 and 118) concerning social security.
40. The Committee
urges the State party to undertake urgent measures to introduce rehabilitation
programmes for street children. The Committee also urges the State
party to address the issue of sexual abuse, exploitation and prostitution
of children by adopting a national plan to combat the problem, including
collecting relevant data and conducting a thorough study of the issue.
41. The Committee
strongly recommends that the State party implement the existing legislation
on domestic violence vigorously, and that police and other law enforcement
officials be given better training to this end.
42. The Committee
recommends that the minimum wage be determined on the basis of criteria
of an adequate standard of living in the State party.
43. The Committee
requests that, in its next periodic report, the State party provide
information on a national housing strategy and on the progress made
in providing adequate housing for all, especially low-income groups,
vulnerable and marginalized groups and those who suffered losses as
a result of hurricane Mitch. The Committee also recommends that the
State party take all appropriate measures to address the problems
of forced evictions and homelessness.
44. The Committee
recommends that the State party review its legislation and adopt all
appropriate measures with a view to continuing agrarian reform and
addressing land tenure issues, in such a manner as to take account
of the needs of the campesinos and of the land rights of indigenous
that mining concessions may have a significant impact on the enjoyment
of article12 and other provisions of the Covenant, the Committee recommends
that applications for mining concessions be publicized in all the
localities where the mining will take place, and that opposition to
such applications be allowed within three months (not 15 days) of
their publication in the relevant locality, in accordance with principles
of procedural fairness.
46. The Committee
urges the State party to adopt immediate measures to counter the negative
environmental and health impacts of the use of pollutants and toxic
substances in specific agricultural and industrial sectors, such as
banana growing and gold mining. In this regard, the Committee recommends
that the State party establish a mechanism by which it can review
effectively the environmental impact studies conducted by or on behalf
of these sectors.
47. The Committee
urges the State party to undertake effective measures to address the
high level of persons living with HIV/AIDS, and in particular facilitate
access to essential drugs, and to seek international cooperation to
48. The Committee
recommends that the State party continue to implement its reproductive
health policy, with a particular focus on young persons, and that
it develop training programmes and counselling services in this regard
for both men and women.
49. The Committee
requests that the State party, in its next periodic report, provide
detailed information about mentally disabled persons, including a
summary of the legal regime governing those in compulsory care and
the measures that are in place to ensure their protection.
50. The State
party is urged to adopt a comprehensive national plan for Education
for All, as anticipated by paragraph 16 of the Dakar Framework for
Action. When formulating and implementing its plan, the State party
is urged to take into account the Committee's General Comments 11
and 13 and to establish an effective monitoring system for the plan.
The State party is also encouraged to seek technical advice and assistance
from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
in relation to both the formulation and implementation of its plan.
51. The Committee
requests that the State party, in its next periodic report, provide
updated statistical information on the rate of illiteracy, as well
as information on the measures taken by the State party to combat
illiteracy and the results of these measures.
52. The Committee
recommends that the State party undertake measures to ensure that
indigenous populations are able to be educated and to have access
to the judicial system in their own languages.
53. The Committee
recommends that the State party avail itself more actively of technical
assistance and cooperation from the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights and the relevant United Nations specialized
agencies and programmes, particularly in the preparation of its second
periodic report to the Committee.
54. The Committee
requests the State party to disseminate its concluding observations
widely among all levels of society and to inform the Committee on
all steps taken to implement them. It also encourages the State party
to consult with non-governmental organizations and other members of
civil society in the preparation of the second periodic report.
the Committee requests the State party to submit its second periodic
report by 30 June 2006, and to include in this report detailed information
on the steps it has undertaken to implement the recommendations contained
in the present concluding observations.