HomeNewsBriefHonduras Military Police Accused of Kidnapping
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Honduras Military Police Accused of Kidnapping

HONDURAS / 16 FEB 2015 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

Four low-ranking military police officers in Honduras were arrested on kidnapping charges, prompting a swift response from the president who wants to enshrine the force into the Constitution.

The four officers strong-armed a local businessman into their car, telling him he was under arrest, but that they would let him go for about $5,700, reported El Heraldo. A relative of the businessman followed the cops in another vehicle and reported the crime to the city police force, who detained the four officers. In the video below, the kidnap victim -- who reportedly owns a fruit stand -- described his ordeal to a local TV station.

President Juan Orlando Hernandez addressed the incident on social media, tweeting that "justice must apply to everyone equally," and that "whoever it may be, he who commits a crime must be judged."

The president is a strong backer of the military police, which were created while a member of Congress in 2013 and currently consists of about 3,000 officers. But earlier this year, Congress rejected an initiative that would have made the force part of Honduran constitutional law. Orlando is now trying to drum up support for a proposed referendum that would allow the public to vote on the issue in November. His Twitter feed includes multiple photos of crowds alongside captions describing "public support" for the military police. 

InSight Crime Analysis

The government is arguably aware of criticism that it has militarized its security strategy to the detriment of human rights. This helps explain why President Orlando is so determined to eliminate the risk that a future government should dissolve the military police -- and getting the force protected by the Constitution is a surefire way to do this. 

SEE ALSO: Honduras News and Profiles

So far, authorities have described this kidnapping case involving military police as a few bad apples. But should more systematic abuse come to light, the president may face the most serious challenge yet to his proposed referendum. 

The creation of the military police formed part of efforts to clean up Honduras' badly corrupt national police force, which has participated in extortion, contract killings, and other crimes. 

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