(Washington, D.C.) - The National Congress of Honduras should follow constitutional requirements intended to guarantee transparency and integrity in the appointment of the attorney general and deputy attorney general, WOLA, LAWG, DPLF, RFKHR, CEJIL, and HRW said today.
The Honduran constitution requires that the attorney general and deputy attorney general, whom Congress is expected to appoint on September 1, be selected from among five candidates presented by a Nominating Board. The appointment of the current attorney general, made in 2018, violated this requirement.
The autonomy and independence of the Public Prosecutor's Office is essential in guaranteeing access to justice and addressing the structural impunity faced by Honduras. According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the role of the Attorney General is “essential for access to justice, guaranteeing the rule of law, the fight against impunity, and the defense of human rights.”
Impunity, corruption, and lack of access to justice in Honduras is high, meaning that the role of the Nominating Board in ensuring that the candidates are honorable, independent, and capable of facing the country's challenges is particularly crucial. In this regard, it is important that the Nominating Board apply objective evaluation criteria, publicly and transparently disclose the requirements and selection criteria, and allow for the scrutiny of social sectors and the participation of civil society, in line with international standards.
The possible installation of the UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Honduras (CICIH) depends on the Honduran justice system maintaining basic conditions of independence and commitment in the fight against corruption. Without this, there is no guarantee that the Honduran State will be able to dismantle the illicit networks that have co-opted the democratic institutionality and affected the governability of the country.
For the construction of a true rule of law, this election process must be carried out free of undue interference, particularly to ensure that those political actors in the National Congress who are being investigated for corruption or other illicit acts refrain from getting involved in the appointment.
Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)
Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF)
Latin America Working Group (LAWG)
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFKHR)
Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)
Human Rights Watch (HRW)