Friday, June 22, 2018

Report: attorney general selection crucial for MACCIH's future (June 22, 2018)

report released yesterday by the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies at American University said that given the challenges that anti-corruption initiative MACCIH has faced from Honduras' judiciary, Congress, and executive branch, this makes an independent, transparent selection process for a new attorney general all the more crucial.

The report describes Honduras' Attorney General Office as "one of the few potential mechanisms for holding the executive branch accountable," given the degree to which the office of the presidency has been able to influence Honduran lawmakers and courts. This makes the selection of Honduras' next attorney general—who must be selected before September—key to the success of the MACCIH's anti-corruption efforts in Honduras.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reiterated this yesterday in a statement that urged the Honduras government to follow an independent, impartial, and merit-based selection process when reviewing candidates. 

The American University report goes on to summarize some of the major successes and challenges that the MACCIH has faced, two years into its four-year mandate. Read a summary at AULA Blog

As noted by InSight Crime, another major take-away from the report is that one of the major challenges facing the MACCIH—asides from constant, relentless efforts by political elites to debilitate its work—is that the success of anti-corruption initiative CICIG in neighboring Guatemala helped create incredibly high expectations for the MACCIH. This has prompted some critics to bemoan that the MACCIH is "toothless" even as it has made important advances: "without the MACCIH, numerous cases would not have gone forward, suspects would have been released, and important laws — especially those regarding campaign financing — would not have been written."

Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador must all select new attorney generals this year (Guatemala has already done so), making 2018 a potential decisive turning point in how the Northern Triangle region can combat corruption, violence, and organized crime. 

  • report by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights documented extrajudicial killings carried out by Venezuelan security forces while conducting purported "crime raids" across the country. Between 2015 and 2017, some 505 people were killed during these supposed crime-fighting operations, the report found: "Witness accounts suggest a pattern: raids in poor neighbourhoods conducted to arrest “criminals” without a judicial warrant; the killing of young men who fit the profile, in some cases in their homes; and finally security forces tampering with the scene so that the killings would appear to have occurred in an exchange of fire." The U.N. human rights office said it had submitted its report to the International Criminal Court, which is looking into allegations of use of excessive force and other abuses committed by the Venezuelan government against protestors. 
  • Human Rights Watch urges the U.N. Human Rights Council to speak out against President Maduro's government, asserting, "A failure to adequately address Venezuela’s crisis during the current Council’s session would leave space for Venezuela’s government to depict a distorted version of events."
  • Two mayoral candidates were gunned down in Michoacan state over a 24-hour period, bringing the total number of people killed during the lead-up to the July 1 election to 18 (Animal Politico). 
  • Poppy growers say they are turning back to marijuana, as the widespread availability of synthetic opioids like fentanyl has forced opium prices down (AP).
  • Will Andrés Manuel López Obrador be able to control the political coalition that is on the verge of helping him win Mexico's presidential race? Reuters notes that AMLO is running on "a divergent platform with no clear center of political equilibrium," which could create conflicts with his various political allies further down the road

  • Colombian authorities may have found the bodies of murdered Ecuadorean journalists who were disappeared and then killed earlier this year, tweeted President Juan Manuel Santos. The journalists were allegedly killed by a dissident criminal group that broke away from the now demobilized FARC guerrillas. 
  • Verdad Abierta analyzes whether Colombia's transitional justice system—created to guarantee truth and justice to victims of the conflict—can survive an Ivan Duque presidency. 

Central America
  • The lawlessness, poverty, and violence that is driving thousands of Central Americans to flee their homes "show little sign of abating," even though homicide rates in the Northern Triangle region have dropped from their peaks, reports the AP
  • Guatemala's Congress has accused the leader of civil society group Accion Ciudadana—which works on anti-corruption and transparency issues, and which has been a fiery critic of President Jimmy Morales —of "ideological falsities," use of fake documents, and other charges. The head of Accion Ciudadana has called the accusations a "clumsy" and "sad" attack (elPeriodico). The accusations come as Guatemala's Congress is in the midst of debating a law that, if enacted, would force NGOs to register with the government and obtain "licenses" in order to remain active—which critics have described as an attempt to restrict the work of reformists. 
  • Pro Publica profiles the six-year-old Salvadoran girl—separated from her mother after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in search of asylum—who can be heard reciting her aunt's phone number in the recording of sobbing children in U.S. government custody published earlier this week (Video)
  • Army-backed police continue to carry out raids in Rio de Janeiro favelas, resulting in multiple civilian deaths from stray bullets (AFP).  


  • Another U.S. Embassy worker was reportedly affected by mysterious "sonic attacks" in Cuba (AP). 
  • "The United States today is largely sitting on the sidelines as the communist-ruled island faces potentially major changes in its economic and political relations with the region," argues the LA Times
  • There is no exact translation for "soccer ball" in Quechua, but that has not deterred an indigenous sports broadcaster who is part of efforts to revitalize the language. (New York Times
  • Argentina—who played in the 2014 World Cup final against Germany—is on the verge of being eliminated, which is causing some national anguish. (The Guardian)
-- Elyssa Pachico 

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