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Honduras Fires Over Two Dozen Police Commanders

More than two dozen police commanders in Honduras have been fired as part of an effort to clean up a force that has long been infiltrated by organized crime.

The civilian commission in charge of reforming the police force announced the firings on Friday, 10 days after five top police generals, including two former police chiefs, were dismissed.

The shake-up followed news coverage of police files showing that top police officials ordered the killings of a Honduran antidrug czar, Julián Arístides González Irías, in 2009 and his top adviser two years later.

According to the documents, the police in those killings acted under the orders of a drug cartel leader, Winter Blanco. At the center of both plots, according to the files, was a police chief, Ricardo Ramírez del Cid, who was among those fired in April.

Accusations of extrajudicial killings and suspicions of drug ties have dogged the national police for decades, but repeated efforts to remake the institution have faltered. This time has been different.

The purge complements an effort by President Juan Orlando Hernández to bypass the national police in favor of a militarized force.

Honduras has one of the world's highest murder rates, driven by street gangs and drug traffickers. But police experts warn that soldiers are not trained to carry out police tasks and that a militarized force will lead to abuses.

The commission in charge of the police cleanup said Friday that 27 commanders had been suspended, four more had accepted voluntary retirement and 16 had been ratified in their positions.

One of the suspended commanders said that there was no proof that he had committed any wrongdoing and that the purge was designed to protect "certain officers."

"We are the people most interested in the purge being carried out," the commander, Henry Osorto, told reporters after meeting the minister of security. "But it should be the criminals who are going. It should be those who collaborated with organized crime."

[Source: By Elisabeth Malkin, The New York Times, Mexico City, 30Apr16]

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small logoThis document has been published on 23May16 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.