Julissa Villanueva

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Julissa Villanueva
Julissa Villanueva (Honduras).jpg
EmployerPublic Prosecutor's Office (Honduras)
Known forForensic science
AwardsWomen of Courage

Semma Julissa (Julissa) Villanueva is the Director of the Honduras Public Prosecutor's Office Forensic Medicine Department.


Julissa Villanueva was born in Tegucigalpa on May 12, 1972.[1] She studied medicine after seeing her father suffering from tetanus, and is now a doctor who specialises in pathology.[2] She chose to specialise in pathology when she heard about the shortage of skilled forensic scientists in Honduras.[1]


Villanueva began working as a forensic pathologist in 2002.[1] She was appointed Director of Forensic Science in the Public Prosecutor's Office in 2013.[3] In 2015 she launched the Journal of Forensic Sciences of Honduras.[4]

Villanueva works to protect women and children from violent crimes in Honduras.[5] Working with Spain, Villanueva is developing a program called DNA Prokids.[6] She has encouraged the Public Prosecutor's Office to give accredited training to forensic scientists.[7][5] Villanueva has driven for more Villanueva worked with the United States Department of State to use DNA to identify migrant bodies.[8] She introduced a computerised database to store information in the morgue.[9] Villanueva created the first humanitarian cemetery in Honduras, which allows unclaimed or unidentified corpses to be exhumed and used as evidence in clinical trials, inspired by the military cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.[10] She developed a Nationwide Human Identification Registry to handle the unsolved murders across the country.[8] She introduced Gesell chambers, to allow victims of sexual harassment or abuse to provide testimony in court without revealing their identity.[8]

In 2018 she received the International Women of Courage Award from the United States Department of State.[11] She was awarded the honour by Melania Trump.[12][13][14]


  1. ^ a b c ""No me imaginé ni soñé ser la directora de Medicina Forense"". Diario La Prensa (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  2. ^ US Embassy HN (2018-03-21), Forensic Medicine Director Julissa Villanueva with English subtitles, retrieved 2018-03-24
  3. ^ "Interventora oficializa nombramiento de Semma Villanueva en Medicina Forense" (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  4. ^ noticias.universia.hn. "Se lanza la primera Revista Científica Forense en Honduras". Noticias Universia Honduras (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  5. ^ a b "Semma Julissa Villanueva Barahona (VIDEO)". Diario La Tribuna Honduras (in Spanish). 2015-01-24. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  6. ^ "Villanueva, la forense hondureña contra la impunidad y el olvido". El Diario de Caracas (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  7. ^ "Médicos de Patología Forense fortalecen capacidades en la Escena del Crimen | Dirección General Medicina Forense Honduras". www.mp.hn (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  8. ^ a b c "Meet the 2018 Worldwide #WomenofCourage - Social Lay". Social Lay. 2018-03-21. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  9. ^ "Directora forense advierte sobre nuevo sistema informático y estadístico". Diario La Tribuna Honduras (in Spanish). 2017-01-04. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  10. ^ "Melania Trump entrega premio a Julissa Villanueva por su valor". Diario La Tribuna Honduras (in Spanish). 2018-03-23. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  11. ^ "2018 International Women of Courage Award Recipients Announced". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  12. ^ "Melania Trump honors non-U.S. women for courage". The Japan Times Online. 2018-03-24. ISSN 0447-5763. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  13. ^ CNN, Betsy Klein. "Melania Trump honors International Women of Courage at State Dept". CNN. Retrieved 2018-03-24.
  14. ^ "Meet the 2018 International #WomenofCourage". DipNote. Retrieved 2018-03-24.