The US has said it will continue to support the Honduran police but will not work with their director general as he faces death squad allegations, raising the question of how such an approach can work in practice.
Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield has said the US would not offer “neither a dollar nor a cent” to Honduras police chief Juan Carlos Bonilla, who is accused of extrajudicial killings, reported AFP.
The US would also avoid working with 20 officials directly below Bonilla, in order to maintain “two degrees of separation,” said Brownfield.
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The US attracted criticism following its announcement earlier this month it planned to give $16 million in aid to the Honduran police force despite allegations reported by The Associated Press that officers carried out extrajudicial killings, and despite an unresolved case against Bonilla.
US law requires security forces to be vetted for human rights abuses before receiving funding and that evidence be provided that such abuses are prosecuted. Congress has already withheld some funding due to concerns about Bonilla but other money has been approved, with the State Department asserting it will only go to specially-assessed units.
By assuring no money will go to Bonilla, the US is attempting to ensure that Honduran aid meets its human rights conditions, despite Honduran officials telling AP that all police work is under the director’s command. However there are charges of extrajudicial allegations against junior officers as well; moreover it is difficult to envision how money being given to a police force can realistically maintain “separation” from that force’s chain of command.