HomeNewsBriefHonduras Police Skirting US Aid Restrictions
BRIEF

Honduras Police Skirting US Aid Restrictions

HONDURAS / 26 MAR 2013 BY JAMES BARGENT EN

Despite conditions that say otherwise, US aid may still be supporting police units supervised by Honduras' controversial police chief, who has been accused of multiple extrajudicial killings.

In August 2012, US Congress froze security aid to Honduras because of concerns over allegations of extrajudicial killings and the appointment of Juan Carlos Bonilla, known as "El Tigre," as chief of police.

Most of that funding was later restored after the US and Honduras agreed to a range of conditions and restrictions over who would receive the money. While Bonilla is not mentioned by name in that agreement, the US Congress has stated none of the money would go to units operating under his command.

However, all police units are legally required to be directly supervised by the police chief -- something which happens in practice as well as in theory, according to the officials and experts consulted by the AP.

When the AP asked the director of one of the programs funded by US money if he answered to Bonilla, the official replied, "I only report to the director general [Bonilla]. All of the programs of the Honduran police are directed personally by him. He has a personal and intense closeness to all projects of international cooperation, especially because of his good relationship with the US Embassy."

The government official in charge of negotiating the aid program with the United States, Foreign Minister Arturo Corrales, denied the claims, saying that all security programs carried out with the United States fall under the control of the defense and securities ministries.

Bonilla has been accused of three extra-judicial killings and implicated in 11 more deaths and disappearances. He was tried and acquitted for one of the murders.

InSight Crime Analysis

Under US law, the State Department is required to vet security forces for human rights abuses before they can receive funding. The US Secretary of State is also required to provide evidence to Congress that the recipient country protects freedom of expression and investigates and prosecutes all military and police personnel accused of human rights violations.

As many of the countries with serious security problems are often plagued by institutional weakness and corruption, this has sometimes led to complex aid agreements with a string of conditions designed to ensure the money does not end up in the hands of corrupt or abusive units.

However, as the case in Honduras shows, laying down the conditions for aid is not enough. It is also the responsibility of the United States to monitor the situation on the ground and to ensure restrictions are genuinely observed, especially in a country like Honduras where a corrupt police force is one of the country's most pressing security problems.

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

ELITES AND CRIME / 3 FEB 2021

A dozen police officers have been implicated in the massacre of 19 people along the US-Mexico border at the end…

COCAINE / 5 NOV 2021

US prosecutors have charged an alleged MS13 leader in Honduras and another man thought to be one of his main…

ELITES AND CRIME / 16 FEB 2021

Lempira is not a major hub for organized criminal activity but is nonetheless an important transit point for illicit narcotics…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Join Us This #GivingTuesday in Exposing Organized Crime

24 NOV 2022

For over twelve years, InSight Crime has contributed to the global dialogue on organized crime and corruption. Our work has provided policymakers, analysts, academics, journalists, and the general public with…

THE ORGANIZATION

Like Crime, Our Coverage Knows No Borders

18 NOV 2022

The nature of global organized crime means that while InSight Crime focuses on Latin America, we also follow criminal dynamics worldwide. InSight Crime investigator Alessandro Ford covers the connections between Latin American and European…

THE ORGANIZATION

Using Data to Expose Crime

11 NOV 2022

Co-director Jeremy McDermott made a virtual presentation at a conference hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The ‘Sixth International Conference on Governance, Crime, and Justice…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime ON AIR

4 NOV 2022

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley was interviewed for the podcast The Rosenberg Case: A Tale of Murder, Corruption, and Conspiracy in Guatemala, which explores the potential involvement of then president, Álvaro Colom,…

WORK WITH US

Work With Us: Research Internship and Editorial Internship

31 OCT 2022

InSight Crime, a think tank dedicated to the study of organized crime and citizen security in the Americas, is seeking interns and investigators to join its dynamic, multinational team.