Thursday, August 9, 2012

More Policing, Less Legality

General Rene Osorio Canales announced Tuesday that selection had already begun for the new elite military unit, Los Tigres (The Tigers), who will function like a police SWAT team.

The unit, when organized, will have 200 members.  Osorio Canales revealed that the officers from the military and police assigned to the group will recommend the function, organization, and training of the Tigers.

One small problem.  The final version of the law to create the unit has not even been written; so the final version has yet to be presented to Porfirio Lobo Sosa, the national Congress, or the Minister of Defense.

Osorio Canales told La Tribuna that the final draft law would be presented to Lobo Sosa, Juan Orlando Hernandez, and Osorio Canales's boss, Minister of Security Pompeyo Bonilla, before the 15th of August.

An early version of the proposed law was sent to Congress on July 26.

This draft law splits the command structure of the unit.  It is nominally a rapid response police force fighting organized crime, but will train on military bases.

In the fight against organized crime, the proposed unit will be under the command of the Minister of Security, while in time of war, it would report to the Defense Minister.

The proposed organization supports Lobo Sosa's goal of merging the Security and Defense Ministries. It also continues a troubling trend of merging civilian policing and military defense.

Osorio Canales seems to be constituting the unit before it has been authorized.

By Honduran law, Congress must pass legislation creating the unit and assign it a budget. The president must sign the law, and then it must be published, before anyone can legally spend a penny on the Tigers.

Government spending without budgetary support is a crime in Honduras. It was one of the major criticisms of the Zelaya government, in its final year in office, when it operated without a congressionally-approved budget.

But times, of course, have changed. Who needs to worry about due process or the rule of law in Honduras today?

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