Honduras: beating corruption in land registration

Honduras: beating corruption in land registration

Translations: ES  

Officially it takes 10 months to register land in Honduras. In reality, the average citizen will wait six years to secure his or her home. Yet not everyone has to stand in line.

According to a recent report by Asociación por una Sociedad más Justa (ASJ), Transparency International’s partner in Honduras, one wealthy applicant received his title for 25,000 hectares in only two hours, despite the fact that the law prohibits titles of more than 5,000 hectares per applicant.

Vulnerable citizens in Honduras are being denied a secure home because of corruption and mismanagement in land registration, the report shows.

Published in a leading national newspaper, the study focuses on El Instituto de la Propiedad (the national Property Institute), which oversees the implementation of property law in the country. The impact from ASJ’s work has been immediate, prompting swift action from the government and an official investigation is under way.

Evicting the poorest

For decades Hondurans have built homes on deserted fields and mountainsides, sometimes paying for the land, and sometimes not. Even if they do pay, most residents don’t have a legally binding land title saying that they own the property.

As the value of unregistered land soared, reports have emerged of groups and individuals who seek to cash in on this insecurity by purchasing huge tracts of land occupied by poor citizens only to force them from their homes or demand extortionate rent.

I can have something I say is 'mine', but when I go to the bank, they’ll say, ‘I’m sorry, but it says here you didn’t pay. Without a title you can lose what’s yours.”

Read Isabella’s* story here

The national Property Institute was created in 2004 to address this issue by providing citizens with official land titles. Yet the report suggests corruption and mismanagement are threatening to derail its work.

Examining allegations of corruption, the report found evidence of widespread abuse, from politicians using land titles to buy votes from impoverished citizens to officials handing out desirable government land in exchange for bribes.

In other cases nepotistic appointments and extended periods of paid leave have left offices struggling to function.

What does a land title mean?

It means people are free from 'land owners' who use their strongmen to charge 'rent' with the constant threat of eviction. It means those who have little more than the land they live on are able to pass on something of value to their children.


Thousands of Hondurans are being denied this because of corruption. ”

– Ludim Alaya, Asociación por una Sociedad más Justa

Immediate impact

The report prompted the government to hire a private auditing firm to look at all the claims of corruption at the Property Institute.

Facing allegations in the report that some staff may have been hired for their connections rather than skills, the government has fired the board of directors and hired new members. Also, a process has been introduced to assess staff members to ensure they are qualified for their jobs and are not involved in corrupt activities.

So far, 400 staff members have been fired, according to newspaper reports. It’s a promising start, but more needs to be done to ensure these changes continue. We’ll be keeping watch to ensure this happens. 

For a long time there was silence around this issue. Now it’s out in the open, and we must ensure that the problems are addressed.”

– Ludim Alaya

Fighting corruption, one citizen at a time

While we fight for systemic change, our staff are also at work in communities helping citizens to secure the documents they need to feel safe in their homes.

With training and guidance, we’ve already helped thousands to achieve registration – people like Isabella, who now has her land title certificate after 23 years of insecurity – and we’re working to empower many more.

*Name has been changed.

For any press enquiries please contact press@transparency.org

Supplementary downloads

Latest

Support Transparency International

Antoine Deltour: LuxLeaks whistleblower’s long legal battle continues

On Thursday 23 November, the High Court of Luxembourg will announce its verdict in the case of Antoine Deltour, the whistleblower who revealed aggressive tax avoidance schemes in Luxembourg by sharing the 'LuxLeaks' documents with journalists in 2014.

Open letter to the President of Equatorial Guinea: Ramon Esono Ebalé must be released

It has been two months since the artist and satirist Ramon Esono Ebalé was detained without charge in Equatorial Guinea. Transparency International joined with 17 organisations and individuals to write to President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. We are calling for his immediate release.

Global Corruption Barometer: citizens’ voices from around the world

Transparency International believes that people’s experience and perceptions of corruption are key for understanding corruption risks around the world. Our Global Corruption Barometer is the world's largest survey asking citizens about their direct personal experience of corruption in their daily lives - check it out here!

How the Honduran military and police profit from the illegal arms trade

An investigation by InSight Crime and Transparency International Honduras has found that many of the guns used in homicides in Honduras come from Honduran military and police stockpiles.

#ParadisePapers: time to clean up the offshore financial havens

The ‘Paradise Papers’ show how the rich and powerful around the world are able to avoid paying tax and keep their business dealings secret. The mechanisms they use can also benefit the corrupt, and must be made more transparent.

Uzbekistan: How to support the real victims of grand corruption

What do you do when assets stolen from a country’s state coffers by corrupt individuals have been recovered and can now be returned to the country - but the government is still controlled by corrupt people? That’s the case of Uzbekistan, one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

Entrevista con testigo clave en el Caso Obiang: Delfin Mocache Massoko

En el 27 de octubre 2017, la justicia francesa ha condenado a Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, vicepresidente de Guinea Ecuatorial, a tres años de cárcel extentos de cumplimiento, una multa de 30 millones de euros (US$35 millones) y confiscó todos sus activos en Francia. Antes de que se anunciara el veredicto, entrevistamos a Delfin Mocache Massoko, un testigo clave en el caso, para descubrir qué significa el juicio para él y los ciudadanos de Guinea Ecuatorial.

Social Media

Follow us on Social Media

Would you like to know more?

Sign up to stay informed about corruption news and our work around the world