Honduras Extends Police Reform Commission until 2018

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The president of Honduras has announced that a reform commission designed to purge the country’s police forces will continue its work until 2018, a move that could strengthen his bid for re-election.

“Our goal is to consolidate the process of purging [the police], because it is still incomplete,” Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández stated in a January 23 press conference.

The president said that the mandate of the Special Commission for the Purging and Transformation of the National Police (Comisión Especial para el Proceso de Depuración y Transformación de la Policía Nacional) will continue until January 20, 2018, reported La Prensa.

The commission began to operate in April 2016 after reports were published indicating that some high-ranking police officials had been involved in the planning and execution of the 2009 assassination of Honduras’ drug czar.

The reform has thus far led to the firing of 2,500 police officers, which amounts to almost 18 percent of the entire police force. Twenty-eight percent of the agents who were fired held high-ranking positions, reported El Tiempo.

The president also announced that the certification process for new police recruits is already under way, and that the new public security forces will have to abide by international standards.

“From now on, the police will have to be constantly evaluated,” Hernández stated. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Honduras’ latest police reform has been much more successful than previous attempts in evaluating, investigating and dismissing police officers, including some from the highest ranks. But the decision to extend the commission’s mandate is taken at critical point for President Hernández’s political future. Hernández has managed to muster enough political support to modify the electoral law and run once more for election, despite constitutional obstacles.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Police Reform

One of the pillars of Hernández’s campaign has been to convince the public that his administration holds a positive security record. The president, for example, stated in the press conference mentioned above that the homicide rate has decreased by 20 percent. Last week, he also signed a law supported by the Organization of American States (OAS) that aims to ensure “that no political party receives money from organized crime.” And it now seems that the president intends to take credit for the police reform commission’s positive results.

But as InSight Crime previously pointed out, the objective set by Honduran authorities to replace the dismissed officers and double the size of the police force by 2022 — a measure that demands the evaluation and training of 12,000 additional officers — will be difficult to achieve given the limited resources and persistent corruption plaguing state institutions.

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