Protestors march in Tegucigalpa

Anti-corruption protestors in Honduras have called for the United Nations to establish an anti-impunity commission similar to the CICIG in neighboring Guatemala, raising questions as to how realistic and effective such a move would be.

On June 5, thousands of protestors marched through Honduras’ capital city Tegucigalpa, demanding President Juan Orlando Hernandez resign before arriving at the local UN office to ask for the creation of an international commission against impunity, reported Reuters.

Hernandez has come under increasing fire after admitting his 2013 presidential campaign received money from businessmen linked to an embezzlement scandal in the country’s social security administration (IHSS). Hernandez denies responsibility and said he was unaware of the source of the money.

Honduras’ executive office also recently announced the Attorney General will soon begin judicial proceedings into corruption cases involving the country’s property, transport, migration, and customs agencies. The snowballing corruption scandals provoked Honduran protestors to demand a body similar to the United Nations-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), which has been at the forefront of combating impunity in the country and was the driving force behind the corruption investigation that has left the current government reeling.

For a UN international commission to be established in Honduras, however, the Honduran government has to petition the United Nations for its formation. Carlos Hernandez -- Transparency International’s representative in Honduras -- welcomed the possibility of a “CICIH.” Yet he cautioned that such a process would be slow, possibly taking three years, and said more immediate measures to fight corruption and impunity must be taken.

InSight Crime Analysis

In 2007, the CICIG began working to combat impunity and dismantle “parallel” criminal networks in Guatemala. It has played a key role in uncovering recent corruption scandals in Guatemala’s customs agency (SAT) and Social Security Institute (IGSS), with the former leading to the resignation of Vice President Roxana Baldetti.

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These scandals -- and the large protests they have sparked in Guatemala City -- have threatened the foundations of the Guatemalan government, with President Otto Perez Molina increasingly isolated. Guatemala’s Supreme Court is even reportedly reviewing a corruption complaint against Perez, and will decide whether or not it merits stripping him of his immunity from prosecution.

Given the role of CICIG in expediting the political crisis in his next-door neighbor, Hernandez -- and other Honduran elites -- will most certainly be wary of inviting an international body into their country to combat corruption. Especially as many Honduran elites and politicians have been implicated in, or are suspected of, corrupt activities and involvement with organized crime and drug trafficking.