October 30, 2012
Honduras is one of the most corrupt nations in the world according to Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index, with corruption levels worse than Egypt, Mexico, and Iran. AJS-supported investigations confirm such claims, showing that thousands of teachers on the public school payrolls never set foot in the classroom and that officials restock the public hospitals’ medicine supplies at exorbitant prices, benefitting a few pharmaceutical companies at the rest of the population’s expense.
According to Carlos Hernández, Executive Secretary of Asociación para una Sociedad más Justa (ASJ),* often when Hondurans are victimized by corruption, “they don’t denounce it, because they are afraid or because they know that nothing will ever happen with their case.”
A new AJS-supported project hopes to change that. ASJ is now the national chapter in Honduras for Transparency International (TI), a global civil society organization leading the fight against corruption. The relationship was made official during a press conference and agreement-signing ceremony last week. Andrés Hernández, TI Senior Program Coordinator in the Americas, traveled to Tegucigalpa from Bogotá, Colombia, to participate in the event. The goal of this new partnership, he said, is to “be critical about the problem of corruption, but also constructive, offering concrete solutions.”
New Anti-Corruption Center Launched
The two organizations have already launched a project to face the corruption experienced by Hondurans every day: ASJ has opened a new Advocacy and Legal Advice Center (ALAC), one of 50 centers around the world using methodologies developed by TI. A small staff of lawyers and assistants will document complaints of corruption, notify the proper authorities, and push them to take action in the cases.
Carlos Hernández notes that this is a perfect complement to the work of other anti-corruption projects already supported by AJS, such as Revistazo.com, an online newspaper, and “Transform Honduras,” a Christian anti-corruption coalition.
According to Ludim Ayala, lawyer and coordinator of the ALAC in Honduras, the goal is to make government systems work so that Hondurans once again believe in their government. “Our hope is that people hear about the ALAC, denounce acts of corruption, and that the government responds effectively,” she said. She concluded with excitement: “We launched the center yesterday, and we already have received our first report of corruption! We hope that people will continue to denounce corruption and that the government will make changes.”