Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Human Rights Commissioner: Give the Police Impunity

Ramon Custodio wants impunity for the Police.

A police officer who commits an illicit act in the line of duty should not even be charged, let alone tried for the crime; so says Honduran Human Rights Commissioner Ramon Custodio in his latest detailed assessment of the police in Honduras. They are defending society, Custodio asserts.

Custodio even gives the example of an officer who, in the process of defending the honest citizen against delinquents, shoots some people with his government-issued gun. He doesn't say whether it's bystanders or actual criminals that get shot. It doesn't matter. There should be no review of the police officer's actions, administrative or judicial, according to Custodio.

Custodio has previously defined impunity:
"impunity consists in letting go unpunished and without penalty someone who commits a crime against the public or private order."
So what he advocates is impunity for the police.

To be fair he's responding to a real problem; it's just that his solution is ludicrous.

The problem is, there are no police regulations, no administrative rules that guide an officer in the proper use of force in Honduras. They pretty much can use their gun as they see fit. However, they may be charged with a crime if they injure or kill someone, although it can take three or more years for such a case to be resolved in the Honduran courts.

In the US, situations like this are covered by rules on the proper use of force, and training that emphasizes the use of proportional force. Bystanders are not to be endangered by police actions. Any use of their weapons is reviewed administratively, and potentially turned over for prosecution. None of this happens in Honduras.

But Custodio says Honduran police should just be allowed to do it, no consequences.

Ironic, since in May, Custodio told Proceso Digital that "impunity destroys the public order."

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