Washington, DC— Last week the Congress of Honduras passed Decree 141- 2017 within its annual spending legislation. The Decree opens a new auditing process to investigate the use of public funds conducted by the Tribunal Superior de Cuentas. Besides being retroactive dating back to 2006, the law takes the judicial capacity to investigate corruption cases away from the Public Ministry for a three year period until the Tribunal determines if there are irregularities in the funding process. The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) is concerned that the implementation of this law could result in a halt of investigative processes related to the misuse of funds and could affect the investigative capacities of anti-corruption forces, the Mission Against Corruption in Honduras (MACCIH), and the Public Ministry.
“The approval of this law represents a serious setback for the fight against corruption in Honduras,” said Adriana Beltrán, director of the WOLA’s Citizen Security program. “The reform is clearly a measure to benefit those who have committed acts of corruption and damages the work of the MACCIH and those who are fighting to combat impunity.”
The timing of this law is particularly worrisome given the cases that are currently being investigated by the Public Ministry and the MACCIH, including one known as the “red de diputados” (network of officials), which involves more than 60 members and former Members of the Congress, senior officials and heads of several organizations. Just yesterday, the newly passed reform of the law was used to shield five Congress members accused by the Public Ministry and the MACCIH of alleged embezzlement of public funds.
“We express our solidarity with the MACCIH and its spokesperson and support his call requesting the immediate repeal or declaration of unconstitutionality of the law,” said Beltrán. “The United States should take measures as damaging as this into consideration when assessing the level of commitment of the Honduran government to the fight against corruption and determining the continuation of cooperation with the country.”