Posted: Sunday, July 9, 2023. 6:05 pm CST.
By Breaking Belize News Staff: In an effort to grapple with widespread corruption, an expert mission from the United Nations has landed in Honduras, according to Honduran authorities on Sunday. This team’s aim is to discuss and determine the parameters of establishing an international anti-corruption commission in the Central American nation. The Gazette reported that this systemic corruption issue is magnifying problems of poverty and leading to a surge in emigration.
President Xiomara Castro, in her election campaign, had promised to form an anti-corruption body, named the International Commission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (CICIH). A year and a half into her term, her government’s inability to agree with the UN on the structure of this commission has left civic groups disheartened.
In December, the Honduran government signed a letter of intent with the United Nations to encourage the establishment of the CICIH. Honduran Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina, while talking to local media on Sunday, stated, “We are going to start negotiating with the UN mission the conditions for the installation of the international anti-corruption body.” He emphasized that the government aspired for this body to have the autonomy to prosecute corruption independently.
It is estimated by U.S. diplomats that approximately $3 billion is lost annually due to corruption in Honduras. Honduran authorities report that 74% of the population is living in poverty.
The duration of the UN mission’s stay in Honduras has not been disclosed. However, their agenda includes meeting with various sectors and addressing the long-standing roadblocks to the establishment of the CICIH.
The United Nations has previously urged Honduras to either repeal or reform laws that obstruct the Public Ministry’s ability to investigate and prosecute officials and lawmakers implicated in misuse of public funds and money laundering.
The proposed CICIH would be the second anti-corruption commission in Honduras. In 2016, the Mission to Support Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH), backed by the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Obama administration, was established. It uncovered corruption among various officials and politicians, many tied to former President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who was extradited to the U.S. on drug trafficking charges in early 2022.
The MACCIH’s mission was cut short in 2020 when the Hernandez government and the OAS couldn’t agree on terms to extend its stay, leaving the country in need of a new anti-corruption initiative.
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