June 20, 2016
The “Special Commission for the Purging and Transformation of the National Police”, of which Carlos Hernández and Omar Rivera are members, spent last week in Washington D.C., presenting their achievements from the last two months.
Since they were appointed on April 12th, members of the Special Commission have been evaluating the Honduran National Police force “from the top, down”, suspending or firing 106 of the 272 highest-ranking police officers in the force, something which has never before been done in the National Police.
The Special Commission closed their Washington visit with a meeting in the White House with Daniel Erikson, special advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, and Siobhan Sheils, director for Central America and the Caribbean at the National Security Council.
Earlier in the week, the delegation visited the office of the Organization for American States (OAS), where they met with Paulina Duarte, director of the Department of Public Security at the OAS, and members of her staff.
The Commission members also attended important meetings with members of Congress and staff of the sub-committee on Western Hemisphere and Global Narcotics Affairs of the Committee on Foreign Relations, as well as the Congressional Caucus on Central America.
They also discussed their advances with personnel from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the program Social Impact, the Colombian embassy in the United States, and the Washington Office for Latin America (WOLA).
In addition to these meetings, the Commission participated in a forum on Thursday hosted by the Wilson Center and co-sponsored by AJS titled, “The Honduran National Police: Is Progress being made in Cleaning Up and Reforming the Force?”
The forum’s attendees included journalists, academics, and government officials. There was so much interest that the event had to change rooms, and was webcast live to accommodate more viewers. The event, which was held in Spanish, can be viewed here.
“In Honduras, we are facing a critical moment. There is a high rate of violence, impunity, and corruption, and the homicide rate is extremely high. In the face of this crisis, we as members of civil society took on the responsibility to work to help reverse this crisis,” said Carlos Hernández in his introduction.
“These changes are risky, but necessary,” said Omar Rivera. “Honduras cannot continue with an incompetent force. It’s worth the risk.”
Washington decision-makers left Thursday’s event with a better understanding of the unprecedented advances in police purging, and an awareness of AJS’s work as brave Christians dedicated to making Honduran systems work.
The Commission members returned to Honduras Saturday, but you can continue to share their message with people in Washington. Visit our website to sign the petition or write a letter voicing your support for police reform efforts in Honduras. You can be part of this historic moment creating a police force that the Honduran people can trust.