The Honduran police sent a proposal to the National Congress with the support of the National Party, to allow minors over 16 years old to be sent to jail.
The National Police of Honduras has many programs --with funds from U.S. cooperation, that involve teenagers, to keep children out of organized crime. The new law is part of these initiatives.
The Director of Police Strategy, Commissioner Joaquin Mejia commented that, “this situation is particular to our country, our congress, and other authorities. I don't know how it will be received. As a police institution, when we carry out various operations, there are lots of minors involved, and we detain them, but remember that they have the child rights in their favor."
According to the Police and the Nationalist deputies the reason for this new law is that this year around 300 minors were involved in criminal activities. Authorities forget about the more than 700 executions of minors by unidentified paramilitary groups and that only this year 17,000 minors were illegal migrants, trying to get to the United States.
The Liberty and Refoundation (Libre) Party has expressed its clear opposition to this act. It asserts that sending minors to prison isn't going to reduce violence, because there is no control over jails. “When a minor commits a crime, it is necessary to punish that, and the Children and Family code shouldn't be used for impunity but instead to rehabilitate these young people, and rehabilitation is impossible in our jails which are, most of them, run by the prisoners,” said Alejandra Mancia, Deputy National Congress by the Libre Party.
Authorities who defend the change argue that in Latin America, Bolivia and Argentina have legislations that allow prisoners of 16 years old. But they don't explain the inhuman conditions of the country's jails. Mancia who is also member of the Child and Family in Congress commented that, “it is important that the National Congress starts to work on policies that benefit the young people of our country. Unfortunately today there are no opportunities for young people, no job opportunities”.
To make the announced change the country should withdraw its signature to the Child Rights International Agreements. Some believe the authorities are willing to reduce the punishable age without much concern about the international consequences. This could mean to keep on walking on a coercive strategy that punishes citizens instead of trying to change the social reasons that produce violence and exclusion.