Honduras Announces Plan To Build 20,000-Inmate ‘Megaprison’

Honduras will build a 20,000-capacity “megaprison,” President Xiomara Castro declared on Friday, as part of a slew of steps to fight the Central American country’s “security crisis.”

Castro, surrounded by members of Honduras’ National Defense and Security Council, stated in a late-night speech to the nation that the “plan of solutions against crime” was in response to popular complaints about escalating violence.

This handout picture released by the Honduran Armed Forces shows inmates during an operation at the National Penitentiary “Francisco Morazan” in Tamara, 25 km north of Tegucigalpa, on June 26, 2023. – (Photo by Army Forces of Honduras / Honduran Armed Forces / AFP)

She stated that the armed forces and police must conduct “urgent interventions” in all locations with “a high incidence of crimes such as murder, drug trafficking, extortion, kidnapping, arms trafficking, illicit associations, and money laundering.”

Handout picture released on February 1, 2023 by El Salvador’s presidency press office of an aerial view of the newly inaugurated prison, at an isolated rural area in a valley near Tecoluca, 74 km southeast of San Salvador. (Photo by Handout / EL SALVADOR’S PRESIDENCY PRESS OFFICE / AFP)

The megaprison and nearly a dozen other measures in the proposal are similar to those in neighboring El Salvador, where President Nayib Bukele’s anti-gang campaign has sparked criticism from rights groups while elevating him to one of Latin America’s most popular presidents.

Honduras is one of the world’s most violent countries, with 34 homicides per 100,000 people in 2023, about six times the global average.

This handout picture released by the El Salvador’s Presidency shows police officers keeping watch during the second arrival of inmates belonging to the MS-13 and 18 gangs to the new prison “Terrorist Confinement Centre” (CECOT) in Tecoluca, 74 km southeast of San Salvador, on March 15, 2023. (Photo by Handout / EL SALVADOR’S PRESIDENCY PRESS OFFICE / AFP)

According to armed forces chief Roosevelt Hernandez, the immediate building of the 20,000-inmate “Emergency Reclusion Center” in a depopulated area between the departments of Olancho and Gracias a Dios in the northeast has been ordered due to a “declared security emergency”.

About 21,000 convicts are now held in 30 prisons across Honduras, and they will be transported to the new institution “immediately,” according to Hernandez.

Members of the Military Police of Public Order (PMOP) guard inmates at the Siria prision in El Porvenir, Francisco Morazan department, Honduras on June 30, 2023. (Photo by Orlando SIERRA / AFP)

Defense Minister Manuel Zelaya said tenders would be published in two weeks for the construction of another jail on the Swan Islands in the Caribbean, which is already intended to house 2,000 inmates.

Zelaya also stated that there were plans to “intensify investigations and operations to locate, eradicate, secure, and destroy coca leaf and marijuana plantations and drug processing centers”.

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