Plans afoot to combat crime and corruption in Honduras
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Plans afoot to combat crime and corruption in Honduras

Plans for Honduras in 2016 include the proposed creation of a new government body to combat endemic corruption.

The Secretary General of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Luis Almargo, announced plans to set up the Support Mission Against Corruption and Impunity (MACCIH) in Honduras during a ceremony with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez in September.

The MACCIH’s mandate will be to tackle widespread corruption and impunity within the country.

Reuters reports that as part of its remit, the MACCIH will create a ‘Justice Observatory’, formed of civil society groups and Honduran academic intuitions, which will evaluate the country’s justice system.

The OAS states that an internationally renowned jurist will lead the mission, reporting directly to the OAS General Secretariat.

Corruption is major problem in Honduras.

The country has been experiencing a surge of crime and corruption since the 2009 coup d’état, and its police force, according to Insight Crime, is now “one of the most corrupt and mistrusted in Latin America”.

El Nuevo Dario reports that more than 90 percent of all homicides go unresolved, and Honduras ranked 126 in Transparency International’s 2014 corruption perceptions index.

In June 2015, thousands of Hondurans protested against impunity and called for the establishment of an anti-corruption body similar to the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).

Protesters took to the streets following the revelation that the former director of the Honduran Social Security Institute (IHSS), as well as other officials, had embezzled some $200 million. Using shell corporations, they allegedly stole public money to maintain luxury lifestyles, which included buying sports car and Miami mansions, and hosting excessive parties with high-paid prostitutes.

One of protest organizers, Ariel Varela, told The Guardian that “our tolerance for corruption has to end”, adding that it “generates poverty and leads to violence”.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández has vowed to address the issue of rampant crime and corruption, and strengthen the country’s institutions.

Working with the OAS, the Honduran government is to create the MACCIH, which will be modeled the CICIG.

Established in 2007 by the United Nations and the Guatemalan government, the CICIG’s mandate is to support national institutions to investigate, prosecute, and take down networks involved in criminality and corruption within the country.

It was central to uncovering a massive corruption scandal in Guatemala in 2015.

Leading government figures, including the former Guatemalan president Otto Perez Molina, were exposed by the CICIG as being part of a customs corruption ring, La Línea.

In July 2015, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) published a report on the CICIG.  It recommended that countries experiencing similar problems should consider using it as a model.

“WOLA believes that the governability problems in Honduras and El Salvador, including the high rates of violence and the shortcomings of their justice and security systems, underscore the importance of considering similar mechanisms for these countries”.