HomeNewsControversial Legal Reforms in Honduras Continue Country's Anti-Corruption Legacy
NEWS

Controversial Legal Reforms in Honduras Continue Country's Anti-Corruption Legacy

ELITES AND CRIME / 5 NOV 2021 BY KAI BERNIER-CHEN EN

A package of controversial legislative reforms became law in Honduras this week, further sinking any lingering efforts to combat corruption in the country.

Approved earlier in October, the amendments to the penal code, criminal procedure code and money laundering law officially took effect on November 1. The most controversial change comes to Article 439 of the Penal Code. It now specifies that as part of any action taken against money laundering, the Attorney General’s Office must prove that the specific assets being laundered are directly connected to particular crimes.

Since this package of reforms was presented, it has been met with strong international concerns, including from the United Nations, and warnings that it would severely weaken Honduras’ fight against corruption. 

SEE ALSO: A Death Foretold: MACCIH Shuts Down in Honduras

When addressing the media on November 1, the head of the Special Prosecutor's Unit Against Corruption Networks (Unidad Fiscal Especial contra Redes de Corrupción - UFERCO), Luis Javier Santos, stated that the reforms would “consolidate ... impunity and weaken the fight against corruption, ... we will see the consequences shortly, it’s bad.”

The reforms have been steadfastly supported by a number of deputies from the ruling National Party. One of them, Waleska Zelaya, was previously under investigation for a suspicious million-dollar sale of face masks during the pandemic.

InSight Crime Analysis

These reforms are not surprising. Honduras, mirroring its counterparts in Central America, has moved consistently away from strengthening the rule of law.  

The biggest blow came in January 2020 with the disbanding of the Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (Misión de Apoyo Contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad en Honduras - MACCIH), an anti-corruption commission backed by the Organization of American States (OAS).

Later in June 2020, the Honduran congress passed a new criminal code lowering sentencing for corruption and drug trafficking cases, among other controversial measures. Although the new measures were originally suspended following complaints from critics who claimed it enabled reduced sentences or jail avoidance for corrupt politicians and criminal allies, the Supreme Court later re-approved them.

Then, in August 2020, a special appeals court dismissed charges against 22 of 26 defendants in the high-profile Pandora case. This had been one of MACCIH’s flagship cases implicating hundreds of former members of congress, and had revealed how deeply entrenched corruption networks are within the national political system.

SEE ALSO: US Senators Seek Sanctions Against Honduras President

All these legal changes have come under the mandate of the National Party, which has governed Honduras since 2010 and has seen a number of its members connected to illicit activities, ranging from drug trafficking to timber trafficking and embezzlement. US prosecutors have accused President Juan Orlando Hernández of protecting drug traffickers in exchange for drug money, though he has denied those charges.

As warned by the head of the Investigations and Case Monitoring Unit of the National Anticorruption Council (Unidad de Investigaciones y Seguimiento de Casos del Consejo Nacional Anticorrupción, CNA), Odir Fernández, when discussing the latest legal changes, Honduras “is reaching a point of no return it if does not choose the next congress wisely."

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

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME / 6 JUL 2021

The future of a controversial highway in Honduras, thought to be a conduit for drug trafficking, remains uncertain as the…

COCA / 19 APR 2022

Coca farms and cocaine production camps are proliferating in Honduras, showing that the illicit crop has taken root in the…

CACHIROS / 28 DEC 2020

A rush of drug plane traffic from South America, coupled with traffickers smuggling large cocaine shipments after coronavirus border restrictions…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…