WASHINGTON — Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and the Organization of American States agreed Tuesday to cooperate in the fight against high levels of corruption and crime in the Central American nation.

The Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras, supported by OAS members, is expected to continue for four years, allowing time for prosecutors, judges and criminal justice officials to work autonomously in the Central American country to provide support, advice and supervision in Honduras’ justice institutions. 

During a ceremony at the ornate OAS headquarters in Washington, Hernandez said he hopes Honduras, under the partnership, will be able to upgrade its justice system to combat crime, corruption and impunity.

“(We will be able to) adequately use our justice resources and clean, retake and actualize our administration’s institutions,” he said. “Most importantly, we want to produce results that will
increase the quality of life and safety for the Honduran people.” 

According to Transparency International, an organization opposing political corruption, Honduras has one of the lowest scores in the American continent under indexes used to measure corruption and human development.  

Hernandez said in the two years of his presidency, Honduras has had fewer homicides each year. He hopes the new agreement will help continue the trend in the Central American country, which in 2012 had 1,172 homicides  that’s 91 murders per 100,000 people. 

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro said it is often the weakest who are affected the most by corruption, which is why the OAS decided to cooperate with the Honduran government to tackle corruption and impunity both inside and outside the government.

“The mission will be integrated by international prosecutors, judges and experts who will select, advice, evaluate and certify a group of Honduran prosecutors and judges who will then be in charge of investigating relevant cases and corruption networks,” he said. 

The mission’s spokesman is Peru’s former prime minister for justice, Juan Jimenez Mayor, who has previous experience in anti-corruption work in developing countries. Jimenez’s team is made up of three other diplomats from Mexico, Germany and Uruguay. The mission, Almagro said, is politically and financially independent.

“I would like to thank donors who have made this autonomy possible, which guarantees (the mission’s) technical and juridical independence,” he said. 

Almagro said the mission will work in four different areas; preventing and combating corruption, reforming the criminal justice system, political and electoral reform and public security. He said Fernando Chinchilla, Honduran general prosecutor, said Hondurans are frustrated by the country’s current political situation. Achieving transparency in the nation’s administration of justice won’t be easy, he said, but the new agreement marks a historic day in Honduran history.  

“Hondurans can now have faith that work is being done to have a just society,” he said.