August 25, 2016
In Honduras, a brand-new police force is on the horizon.
The decisive action of the Police Purging Commission, appointed in April, has removed a third of the former police leadership after investigations exposed links to drug trafficking, organized crime, and squads of assassins within the police.
The firing of 313 high-ranking officers in just four months is encouraging, but the next step is to investigate and try the alleged cases of murder and corruption in the courts. As the Commission is an administrative body, not a judicial one, they are enlisting the support of Honduras’ Public Prosecutor’s office to ensure that justice is achieved in these cases.
Yesterday, the Commission met with the Attorney General to deliver 144 criminal cases, implicating 455 police officers with crimes ranging from theft to extortion to assassination.
“The files of police officers with alleged evidence of criminal responsibility are stained with dirt and blood.”
“The files of police officers with alleged evidence of criminal responsibility are stained with dirt and blood,” said Omar Rivera, a member of the Commission, “They show evidence of many police officers who dedicated themselves to murder, theft, extortion, and illicit enrichment.”
“The documents delivered to the Public Prosecutor’s office contain nightmarish stories in which the criminals, delinquents, and corrupt people are precisely those who were responsible for combating illicit actions and organized crime,” Rivera continued, “In other words, the high-ranking officials and agents of the National Police were the “bad guys” of the film.”
The Police Purging Commission praised the Attorney General for his creation of a specialized task force charged with investigating and prosecuting these cases, and also recognized the participation of the Honduran people in reporting cases of crime and corruption within the police.
An important factor in preparing these cases, Rivera said, was “the participation of the people, the citizen support, and the decision of Hondurans to not stand silent before those who have abused the authority that they had been granted.”
Finally, Omar Rivera asked the Secretary of Finances and the National Congress to make an effort to increase the budget of the Public Ministry during the fiscal year 2017, as “the different special attorneys will need a greater quantity of resources to confront the many challenges of the fight against police corruption.”
In the next few months, the Police Purging Commission will continue to evaluate the 10,000 remaining police officers charged with protecting Honduras’ streets and continue to advocate for deep structural reforms within the Secretary of Security. As the Commission works to permanently remove corrupt officers from the force, and the Public Prosecutor brings cases against them, there is hope for a new and responsive police – one in which justice, not impunity, reigns.