HomeNewsBriefHonduras Attorney General, Civil Society Challenge ‘Impunity Pact’
BRIEF

Honduras Attorney General, Civil Society Challenge ‘Impunity Pact’

ELITES AND CRIME / 5 FEB 2018 BY TRISTAN CLAVEL* EN

The attorney general of Honduras and a prominent civil society group have launched legal challenges against a recent legislative reform denounced by critics as an “impunity pact,” highlighting rising tensions between anti-corruption advocates and entrenched elites in the turmoil-stricken Central American nation.

The Honduran Attorney General’s Office has appealed the constitutionality of a reform to the General Budget Law, El Heraldo reported on February 2. The non-governmental Association for a More Just Society (Asociación para una Sociedad más Justa – ASJ) also appealed the reform.

The reform in question, passed by congress on January 18, establishes a period of up to three years for the Superior Accounts Tribunal (Tribunal Superior de Cuentas – TSC) to conduct an audit into suspected instances of misspending of public funds.

During that time period, individuals suspected of wrongdoing could not be prosecuted by judicial authorities, effectively preventing the Attorney General’s Office from pursuing corruption-related cases. The reform applies retroactively to all such cases since 2006.

Critics denounced the move by congress as an attempt to interfere with the anti-graft efforts of the Attorney General’s Office, which is being aided by a body backed by the Organization of American States (OAS) known as the Support Mission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (Misión de Apoyo contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad en Honduras – MACCIH).

MACCIH head Juan Jiménez Mayor recently described the reform as an “impunity pact,” and questioned its timing, since it was approved as the MACCIH and the Attorney General’s Office opened an investigation into a possible systematic embezzlement scheme involving 60 congressmen and up to 1.3 billion lempiras ($55 million).

The top US diplomat in Honduras, Heide Fulton, also criticized the reform, calling it a “monumental step backward in the fight against corruption.”

The Attorney General’s Office is arguing that the reform violates constitutional principles protecting the separation of government powers because it transfers law enforcement responsibilities from the judicial branch to the executive, among other things. ASJ argues that it contravenes the principle of citizens’ equality before the law.

InSight Crime Analysis

The legal challenges underscore a widening rift between entrenched elites and supporters of anti-graft initiatives in Honduras. Mirroring a pattern seen across the region — perhaps most prominently in Guatemala and Brazil — Honduran elites have responded to mounting corruption investigations by fighting back.

SEE ALSO: Elites and Organized Crime

The outcome of the appeals could have significant implications. The upholding of the legal reform would hack away at MACCIH’s credibility — already weakened in the wake of Hernández’s much-contested reelection — and would effectively block the Attorney General’s Office from moving forward on corruption cases.

Even if the reform is struck down, the congress would have another opportunity to attempt to derail the anti-graft efforts, as it is set is set to elect a new attorney general in August 2018. Given that the legislature is dominated by Hernández’s National Party, many of whose members are under suspicion of corruption, it is likely that they will try to select a candidate who will be disinclined to continue his predecessor’s campaign against crooked elites.

* Parker Asmann contributed reporting to this article.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

HONDURAS / 13 NOV 2012

A Honduran policeman shot dead five fellow officers, a killing which police commanders said would spur on a controversial reform…

COLOMBIA / 26 JUN 2014

The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC)'s most recent report on the global narcotics trade has placed a…

ELITES AND CRIME / 27 OCT 2016

The assassination of a Guatemala mayor with alleged links to a drug trafficking group illustrates the links between elites and criminal…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…