Friday, September 17, 2010

Impunity on Impunity

Porfirio Lobo Sosa announced last Friday that he has invited the members of the UN Commission Against Impunity to come to Honduras.

But the Public Prosecutor, Luis Rubí says not so fast. "Nobody from outside can tell us what we have to do," Rubí told reporters on Monday.
"When you bring a commission, you are having doubts and really, this country is not for having doubts; we who believe in its institutions; we who believe in its functionaries, we who believe in the country; we have to believe in ourselves, the Hondurans."

So what is this thing that Rubí finds so threatening, so un-Honduran?

The immediate precedent is the Comisión Internacional Contra la Impunidad en Guatemala (CICIG). It was established in 2008 to investigate the existence of clandestine security apparatus in Guatemala and facilitate dismantling it. It assists the Public Prosecutor's office, and may participate as a complementary prosecutor, but always in conformity with the Code of Criminal Procedures in Guatemala, as part of its mandate. It makes recommendations about new public policies and procedures that would help with the eradication of these clandestine security organizations, and that will help strengthen Guatemala's capacity to protect the basic human rights of its citizens.

Lobo Sosa outlined similar tasks for such a commission in Honduras. He said the commission would investigate the clandestine security apparatus that's operating in Honduras, train prosecutors and police, and make recommendations about modifications to laws to help disarticulate such clandestine groups.

Proceso Digital expands on reasons to reject such a commission, in unsourced comments following their quotations of Rubí's reactions. According to them, it is all a Zelayista plot to get rid of Luis Rubí, the Supreme Court, the Human Rights Commissioner, and everyone in Congress who voted, twice, to remove Zelaya. Oh, and if that's not enough, it is also, according to them, Hugo Chavez's strategy which he's pushing through the ALBA countries in the OAS.

Hmm. Porfirio Lobo Sosa is a Zelayista? Who knew?

And if the Supreme Court is a target, why is the Supreme Court said to be in favor of it?

The actual inspiration seems somewhat more local. Alvaro Colom, President of Guatemala, told the press in Guatemala that both Honduras and El Salvador were preparing petitions to ask the UN for a Commission Against Impunity such as Guatemala already has.

Any such commission in Honduras will have a difficult task probing clandestine activities of the military, police, and politically powerful. Part of the challenge is that investigating impunity in the security forces is likely to lead directly to drug traffickers.

The Guatemalan commission has sparked push-back by elites who find themselves under investigation and prosecution. In June the head of its commission resigned, citing attacks by the powerful and lack of support for his work. This only months after giving press comments on the successes of the commission, which certainly seemed impressive: about 2,000 policemen (15 %) were removed from the force, an attorney-general and ten other prosecutors were fired, and three justices of the Guatemalan Supreme Court lost their office. The commission saw 130 individuals jailed following successful prosecution.

It is clear that uprooting impunity in the security forces cannot be done entirely from within the system in Honduras; it will need the backing of the international community to succeed.

But that's not going to happen if Rubí and the others who believe they gained impunity for the coup and its aftermath through congressional amnesty have anything to say about it.

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