HomeNewsAnalysisHonduras Court Ruling Could Undermine Anti-Graft Body
ANALYSIS

Honduras Court Ruling Could Undermine Anti-Graft Body

ELITES AND CRIME / 1 JUN 2018 BY ANGELIKA ALBALADEJO AND MIKE LASUSA EN

The Supreme Court in Honduras has issued a complicated ruling on the constitutionality of an independent anti-graft body that keeps the body intact, but could nonetheless undermine a key aspect of how it functions.

The decision, dated May 29, came in response to a legal challenge regarding the constitutionality of the Support Mission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (Misión de Apoyo contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad en Honduras – MACCIH), a judicial support organ created by a 2016 agreement between the Honduran government and the Organization of American States.

A group of congressmen had argued that the MACCIH should be declared unconstitutional because it violated Honduras' sovereignty and the independence of the country's institutions.

The court rejected that argument, but part of its decision could affect the functions of a special unit of the Attorney General's Office known as the Special Prosecution Unit Against Impunity for Corruption (Unidad Fiscal Especial Contra la Impunidad de la Corruption - UFECIC).

The UFECIC is the main unit that MACCIH works with in building anti-corruption cases, so the ruling restricting that collaboration could greatly complicate anti-graft efforts.

SEE ALSO: Honduras News and Profiles

In a series of tweets, the former head of the MACCIH, Juan Jiménez Mayor, questioned the legal logic behind the ruling.

"The decision doesn't declare the [agreement that created MACCIH] unconstitutional, but it establishes only one form of application," Jiménez Mayor wrote.

"The decision obligates the attorney general to adapt the ... UFECIC to this interpretation, restricting the mandate of the MACCIH," he continued.

But, he said, "The interpretation is based on a non-existent assumption: UFECIC does not delegate constitutional functions to MACCIH."

InSight Crime Analysis

It remains to be seen exactly how the Supreme Court's ruling will affect the functioning of the MACCIH, but some observers see it as another blow to the anti-graft body amid a long-running self-protection campaign by elements of Honduras' business and political elites.

Charles Call, the head of American University’s special research team on MACCIH and anti-impunity efforts in Honduras, told InSight Crime that the decision is a “backdoor way to undermine MACCIH,” which has “been very seriously wounded by this ruling.”

The ruling gives the public appearance of having protected the anti-graft body from a legal attack, likely in an attempt to quell concerns from the international community and Honduran civil society. But in reality, it threatens the existence and functioning of UFECIC, which allows for real coordination between MACCIH and the Attorney General’s Office.

In recent months, Call said, elites “have really had it out to defang MACCIH” because the body began moving forward with “sensitive cases that have had political repercussions,” including an embezzlement scheme implicating dozens of members of Congress. With the court’s ruling, “they found a clever way" to accomplish that goal, he said.

SEE ALSO: InDepth Coverage of Elites and Organized Crime

Gabriela Blen, a prominent Honduran anti-corruption activist and head of an advocacy group focused on transparency and justice issues, told InSight Crime that the MACCIH could face threats beyond the recent Supreme Court decision.

In particular, Blen said, the upcoming selection of the country’s next attorney general will be “decisive” in determining the future of Honduras' struggle to root out graft.

“If the MACCIH continues in Honduras but the Attorney General’s Office does not collaborate, the MACCIH will not be able do anything,” Blen said.

She added that a new attorney general could choose to directly dismantle the UFECIC, even though the recent ruling does not. The new attorney general could also selectively throw out cases targeting powerful individuals.

Blen and Call both emphasized that ongoing pressure from civil society and the international community will be key in the coming months because the Supreme Court decision represents just one in a series of attacks against anti-corruption efforts that have seemed to gain momentum in recent months.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

EL SALVADOR / 24 MAY 2016

El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala are all facing serious financial constraints that could hinder their ability to carry out reforms…

ELITES AND CRIME / 15 JUL 2021

In the process of expanding their influence, criminal groups often develop close ties with elites in an effort to gain…

ELITES AND CRIME / 1 NOV 2017

A new report has determined that a network of senior business executives and Honduran officials coordinated the murder of…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution Met With Uproar

6 MAY 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime launched its latest investigation, Venezuela’s Cocaine Revolution¸ accompanied by a virtual panel on its findings. The takeaways from this three-year effort, including the fact that Venezuela…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…