The Organization of American States will create a mission to tackle corruption in Honduras, after months of citizens taking to the streets demanding that the president resign and the end to government corruption in the country.
The OAS's anti-corruption mission will include an international team of judges and prosecutors who will advise and supervise prosecutors in Honduras, said the Washington-based OAS in a statement Monday.
Dubbed the Mission to Support the Fight Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH), the international legal specialists will work alongside President Juan Orlando Hernandez – despite the fact that citizens have been demanding his resignation.
Activists have been asking for an international anti-corruption mission to be established in the country, similar to one started by the United Nations in neighboring Guatemala, which helped lead to the forced resignation of President Otto Perez Molina, who was allegedly connected with a fraud scheme.
According to Hernandez, the OAS mission will be similar but ;more integrated with the Honduran government than the U.N. body in Guatemala. While the CICIG, whose headquarters are located in New York City, claims on its webpage it is politically, organizationally and financially ;independent, the voluntary contributions it depends on have mainly come from the United States – with up to US$21 million contributed up till 2013.
Guatemala's U.N. mission had the power to open investigations into suspected cases of corruption, but it is unclear if the OAS will have this power in Honduras.
Since May, Hondurans have been taking to the streets in regular protests denouncing the government's involvement in a fraud and graft scheme that nearly destroyed the national health service. The scandal involved the director of the Honduran Social Security Institute (IHSS) and other high officials who allegedly siphoned off some US$200 million through inactive shell companies to pay for luxury lifestyles, including mansions, sports cars and lavish parties.
President Hernandez has not been directly implicated in the corruption scandal, however his party also received millions through the scam for his election campaign – something Hernandez himself was forced to admit.
The MACCIH mission will also include the creation of a ;Justice Observatory, that will be made up of Honduran academic organizations and civil society groups to assess reforms of its justice system, reported Reuters.
The OAS did not confirm when the mission would get started, but said it would send a delegation to Honduras ;shortly to begin the process.