Sunday, April 8, 2012

Glacial Pace of Police Cleanup

More than a month ago, we discussed the lack of progress on cleaning up corruption in the Honduran Police.

Here's a (lack of) progress report.

The committee to oversee the police cleanup, formally known as the Comisión de Reforma de la Seguridad Pública, has only been partly appointed.

On March 12, Porfirio Lobo Sosa named the three Honduran members of the commission. They will be Matias Funes, Victor Meza, and Jorge Omar Casco. Victor Meza was Interior Minister in the Zelaya administration. Jorge Omar Casco is former rector of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Honduras, and is a member of the official Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Matias Funes is a university professor and former presidential candidate.

However, the two international members of the Commission remain unappointed. Lobo Sosa has previously announced that the international members would come from Canada and Chile, and asked both governments for nominations, but only Chile has supplied a name, to date.

Ramon Custodio, the Honduran Human Rights Ombudsperson, told the press that the Honduran government is creating uncertainty in the minds of Hondurans by its slow pace at identifying and removing corrupt police officers. He said:
In Honduras there are good and bad police, but in the actual hierarchy, apparently the bad ones have more power than the good police.

Custodio compared the speed of this administration's response to police corruption to the reaction of the Callejas administration in 1993:
When the crisis in the police happened in 1993 they acted practically immediately and in a few days the ad-hoc commission determined to dissolve the Dirección Nacional de Investigaciones (DNI) and to create the Public Prosecutor and a new investigative police.

Compare that with the speed of response of the Lobo Sosa administration.

In the five and a half months since two university students, including the son of Julieta Castellanos, were killed, the Lobo Sosa administration created but failed to fund a police oversight commission, the Dirección de Investigación y Evaluación de la Carrera Policial (DIEP). The DIEP was created in December, and its members appointed that month. However, since then, the committee has done nothing, awaiting a budget. This spring its chairman quit over the lack of funding.

The Lobo Sosa administration announced it would create a security commission to oversee the cleanup of the police, the public prosecutor's office, and the judiciary, but it took until February for them to solicit nominations for the Honduran members, and it took until mid-March to appoint those members. It has not yet managed to appoint the two international members.

On March 24, the Security Minister, Pompeyo Bonilla turned over to the Public Prosecutor's office the investigative files on 18 police officers. Eighteen, when more than 100 police officers have been dismissed for alleged corruption since October. The Public Prosecutor's office has repeatedly called for all the files to be turned over, but as of now, only those 18 have left the Ministry of Security.

Here we are five and a half months after the promises began, waiting for something other than talk to happen.

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