Honduras’ new anti-impunity body will make its debut investigating high-profile corruption in the country’s social security administration and police forces, but questions regarding the transparency of the country’s judicial nomination and selection process cast a shadow over the commission’s hopes for success.
A source linked to the Organization of American States (OAS) has confirmed the newly constituted Support Mission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (Misión de Apoyo Contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad en Honduras – MACCIH) will begin its work investigating the corruption scandal that rocked the country’s Social Security Institute (Instituto Hondureño de Seguridad Social – IHSS), along with investigating the broader problem of police corruption, reported La Tribuna.
The final agreement to operationalize MACCIH, a joint project between the Honduran government and the OAS, was signed on January 19. In a statement made during the agreement signing, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández and OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro made specific reference to the IHSS scandal, while also making the case for broader reforms to Honduras’ justice system.
On the heels of the MACCIH launch, Honduras’ congress is preparing to select 15 new supreme court justices on January 25. In anticipation of the selections, the American Bar Association (ABA) has released a report calling for increased transparency and greater emphasis on qualifications in Honduras’ judicial nomination process. After looking closely at the past rulings and records of the justices who made it through the first filter of congressional consideration, the ABA found among them: justices who had been formally denounced for abusing power and falsifying public documents, justices whose rulings contradicted international norms, and justices whose rulings had been overturned by superior courts.
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The news that MACCIH will make its debut investigating the IHSS scandal and the broader problem of police corruption comes as both welcome and unsurprising. The IHSS scandal catalyzed much of the anti-corruption groundswell in Honduras that prompted calls for a new anti-impunity body in the first place, and police corruption has been a long-recognized problem in the broader Honduran judicial landscape. The choice to immediately tackle high profile investigations will likely prove popular. However, it does raise the stakes of those investigations, and leaves the newly formed and relatively inexperienced MACCIH with little room for error.
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The ABA’s concerns about the qualifications of judges being considered for supreme court nomination also cast a shadow over the excitement surrounding MACCIH’s launch. Ultimately, the anti-impunity mission will only be as effective as the judicial system it is charged with accompanying, assessing, and overseeing.