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In Honduran cities, 99 percent of murders go unpunished

Better, safer policing has been a major issue of public concern in the United States in recent months. But a new study from Honduras is a good reminder that things could be much, much worse. As Insight Crime reports, policing in Honduras is so poor that murderers enjoy almost complete impunity. From 2010 to 2013, less than four percent of murders resulted in convictions:

Honduran homicides 2010-2013

Source: Alianza Paz y Justicia via Revistazo

If anything, those statistics actually understate the severity of the problem. The study found that in Honduras's major cities, only about one percent of murders led to convictions:

Updated urban homicides chart

Source: Alianza Paz y Justicia via Revistazo

The study, which was conducted by Alianza Paz y Justicia, a Honduran NGO, and reported by the website Revistazo, found that the police only opened an investigation into 8 percent of urban murders and only sent 7 percent to trial. And in more than 60 percent of cases, they never even collected the body from the crime scene.

That means that if you're a criminal in Honduras considering whether to commit a murder, there's almost no need to even worry that you'll be caught and punished. Indeed, the crime probably won't even be investigated. The reasons for this are complex, but include rampant police corruption and institutional weakness, which never recovered from Honduras' 2009 coup. At the same time, organized criminal groups - many of them heavily involved in the drug trade - are very powerful, making it dangerous to investigate or prosecute them.

The results of that rampant impunity are predictably devastating: Honduras is one of the most violent places on earth. The city of San Pedro Sula has the highest murder rate in the world, and the country's Central District, which contains Honduran capital Tegucigalpa, has the fourth-highest.

And there are signs that things are getting worse, not better. According to Iris Fonseca, Honduras's Special Prosecutor for homicides, there have been 2,363 homicides in San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa so far in 2014. Of those, only 129 — less than 5.5 percent — have been sent to court.

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