Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Lack of Will to Fix Police

There is international agreement that Honduras needs to clean up the corruption in its national Police.

Chile sent its Carabineros to make recommendations. A result of their visit was the immediate dismissal, without hearings, of 24 police officers, though the reasons for their dismissal were never made public or their names communicated to the prosecutor's office.

As recently as five days ago, representatives of the US State Department reiterated their support of the process of addressing police corruption in Honduras. Even Ramon Custodio, Human Rights Ombudsman, said that "cleaning up corruption is an urgent necessity because of the emergency situation that the country is living with." The Episcopal Conference of the Catholic Church in Honduras called for the immediate and effective cleanup of the Police.

All of this urgency arose from the assassination of two university students by the Police last October. Eight Police officers have been indicted in the murders.

But there's a problem.

Nothing's actually happening.

On the first of December, Congress created the Dirección de Investigación y Evaluación de la Carrera Policial (DIECP), and selected Óscar Manuel Arita to direct it. But it seems Congress "forgot" to include his new agency in their 2012 budget passed later that month. Unofficially he saw that he could accomplish nothing, and has quit citing the lack of budgetary support as the reason. Officially, however, he quit strictly for personal reasons.

The lack of funding might be deliberate. It is Lobo Sosa's government that proposes the budget. On November 5, 2011, Lobo Sosa reactivated the Consejo Nacional de Seguridad Interior (CONASIN) to, among other things, oversee the cleanup of the police.

Lobo Sosa's group, under his control.

In January of this year, Julieta Castellanos, whose son was one of the university students murdered by the police, called what's going on a fictive cleanup. She said the police actions to date are merely marking time so that they can make the claim they don't need a commission to clean them up. There was talk at that time of an international commission to oversee the Police cleanup, with 3 national and 2 foreign members, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside.

While more than 100 police have been dismissed for alleged corruption (which includes failing a drug test), none of the information on their alleged acts of corruption, or their names, has been given to the prosecutor's office so that they can be investigated. Blame the Security Minister, Pompeyo Bonilla for this.

Lot's of heat; not very much light.

1 comment:

John (Juan) Donaghy said...

It appears that VP Biden is hearing different voices than yours regarding police corruption. In his statement in Tegucigalpa he said: "One important area in which we can hopefully be of help -- and their legislature is already leading down here -- is in vetting the police, the prosecutors, and the judges." (Italics mine.)
Who is advising him on this? Probably the same people who say, as Dan Restrepo said, before the visit, that the meeting with Lobo "provides an opportunity to reaffirm the United States' strong support for the tremendous leadership President Lobo has displayed in advancing national reconciliation and democratic and constitutional order."
No wonder US policy to Honduras and Latin America is so awful.