Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández traveled to Washington DC to officially bring into existence his country's new international anti-impunity body, beginning the latest chapter in Honduras' fight against corruption.
On January 19 Hernández will sign an agreement with the Organization of American States (OAS) to establish the Support Mission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (Misión de Apoyo Contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad en Honduras – MACCIH).
The MACCIH is intended to strengthen Honduras' judicial system "in the prevention and fight against corruption and impunity in the country." It will do so "through active cooperation, technical advice, supervision and oversight of the State institutions responsible for preventing, investigating, and punishing acts of corruption."
Once established, the next step will be announcing the team of prosecutors who will staff the MACCIH, and setting up the body at a physical location in Honduras' capital-city Tegucigalpa, reported El Heraldo. Honduras Attorney General Óscar Fernando Chinchilla said his office would name at least 100 lawyers for the MACCIH to select from in forming its elite unit, assigned to investigating corruption networks.
According to sources cited by El Heraldo, the MACCIH will be given access to police archives and may assume control of anti-corruption purges in the police and military.
Supported by the OAS and United Nations, the MACCIH will receive international funding to guarantee its independence and autonomy. During its approved four-year term the MACCIH will receive $32 million, or a budget of roughly $8 million annually.
In an article for Spanish daily El País, OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro hailed the MACCIH as an "initiative without precedent" in Honduras. The OAS asked ordinary Hondurans to give the MACCIH their "vote of confidence" ahead of its implementation, reported La Vanguardia.
InSight Crime Analysis
The MACCIH arose in response to widespread protests in Honduras during 2015 over official corruption. Many protestors called for the resignation of President Hernández, as well as the creation of an international anti-corruption body similar to the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala - CICIG).
SEE ALSO: Honduras News and Profiles
The MACCIH, however, faces a long road ahead if it hopes to replicate the CICIG's success at tackling Guatemala's entrenched corruption networks, work that led to the resignation and arrest of ex-President Otto Pérez Molina.
For one, Honduran elites involved in corrupt activity are likely well attuned to developments in neighboring Guatemala, and may take measures to ensure Honduras does not experience a similar string of high-profile anti-corruption takedowns.
Yet perhaps a more practical limitation for the MACCIH will be a lack of strong data and information from which to draw reliable conclusions. While the MACCIH will have access to Honduras' official public records and archives for its anti-corruption battle, this information may be limited or incompetently organized -- something InSight Crime experienced during a recent Honduras gang study.