Military and Police Hand-in-Hand in Fight against Crime in Honduras

By Dialogo
March 04, 2011

Thank you
More than two thousand military personnel went out on 2 March, to patrol the streets together with the police in Honduras’s major cities, under the banner of containing a crime wave that has President Porfirio Lobo’s administration up against a wall.

Defense Minster Marlon Pascua and Security Minister Oscar Alvarez dropped the flag to start the joint operation with a small ceremony held in Tegucigalpa’s central park.

Immediately afterward, vehicles loaded with police officers and military personnel were deployed to neighborhoods and districts in the capital to begin the patrols, which were ordered by President Lobo starting on the night of 28 February.

Operations were also launched in San Pedro Sula (240 km to the north), the country’s industrial capital and now – in addition – its crime capital, taking first place in the incidence of crime, according to official statistics.

The decision to send the military into the streets was taken by President Porfirio Lobo at a meeting with the defense and security ministers, Human Rights Minister Ana Pineda, and authorities from the bodies that operate the judicial system, including the association of judges and the bar association.

The crimes of two notable individuals – an evangelical pastor and a lawyer – in recent days, as well as the continuation of a series of kidnappings for ransom, were the immediate triggers for the decision.

“We’ve made agreements that we’re going to work together, agreements that we’re going to re-establish the interinstitutional criminal justice commission, which will enable us to work jointly,” Alvarez declared.

The commission, which ceased operating a few months ago, was formed in response to complaints by authorities from the Security Ministry that criminals who were detained were being released by the courts.

The judges, for their part, complained about the lack of evidence to support the charges, due to the deficiencies of the police force.

Pineda told AFP that one of the agreements reached at the meeting was to adopt “an interinstitutional plan to prevent and fight crime,” respecting human rights.

Ordinary citizens and human-rights organizations complain that patrols, like those embarked on for an indefinite period at the beginning of March, violate human rights, because military personnel and police officers mistreat individuals during searches.