Anti-Corruption Fight at Stake in Honduras Attorney General Selection

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The selection process for the new attorney general in Honduras is already causing concern among civil society organizations due to a shortfall of candidates and the lack of time to choose a suitable replacement to continue the country’s fight against corruption.

On April 25, the Alliance for Peace and Justice (Alianza por la Paz y la Justicia – APJ) and the Association for a More Just Society (Asociación para una Sociedad más Justa – ASJ) organized a forum entitled “For a Five-Star Attorney General,” which was attended by members of Honduran civil society including José Ugaz, former president of Transparency International, and Jorge Padilla, a representative of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights (Instituto Interamericano de Derechos Humanos – IIDH).

During the forum, the speakers described the profile they believed the next attorney general of Honduras should have, and demanded that authorities ensure transparency in the selection process as well as sufficient time to reach the best decision.

“We say to the Honduran political class that they have a responsibility not to elect too hastily. They must be conscious when choosing the person to hold the position,” Padilla stated in comments reported by Proceso.

The next attorney general of Honduras will be selected by the Congress before September. But first, the proposal group — an entity comprised of seven members from judicial, academic and civil society institutions — must nominate the five best candidates for the job. April 30 is the final day for the proposal group to register the list to be considered by the Congress. However, a few days before the deadline, only two candidates have been registered.

According to Proceso, ASJ’s Carlos Hernández said that if there are not enough candidates before the deadline, the organization will “demand that the proposal group extend the [enrollment] period to get the right number of people and allow them to make the best choice.”

InSight Crime Analysis

This is a decisive year for the future of the battle against corruption and organized crime in the Northern Triangle region of Central America, made up of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. All three countries will elect their attorneys general while a series of scandals and accusations dog their political and economic elites.

In Honduras, the next attorney general’s challenge will be to continue the work and investigations started by current Attorney General Óscar Chinchilla, who contributed to the arrests of important organized crime figures like the Valle Valle brothers and Héctor Emilio Fernández Rosa, alias “Don H.”

SEE ALSO: Honduras News and Profiles

Chinchilla also helped to dismantle other support networks for drug trafficking organizations, as in the case of former president Porfirio Lobo’s son Fabio Lobo, who was accused of collaborating with criminal group the Cachiros. Another case involved the same ex-president’s wife, Rosa Elena de Lobo, who was arrested for embezzling nearly $600,000 a few days after her husband’s term ended. Since then, some of the charges against her have been dismissed.

The attorney general’s task is far from easy. Pressure from the Honduran elite has even affected the internationally-backed Support Mission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (Misión de Apoyo contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad en Honduras – MACCIH), which is supported by the Organization of American States (OAS). In February, the head of the MACCIH — who had contributed to investigations into political figures allegedly involved in graft and drug trafficking — resigned his post one month after congress passed a law that would interfere with the mission’s investigations against an embezzlement ring made up of Honduran legislators.

The next attorney general will have to face similar obstacles in which the political elite is pitted against anti-corruption efforts, which is why it is important for the chosen candidate to be suitable for the position, and independent — a person who will not give in to the interests of politicians or organized crime.

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