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Commission That Toppled Guatemala President to Be Replicated in Honduras

After a UN-backed commission revealed evidence that forced Guatemala's president to resign, Honduran President Juan Hernandez said he's requested a similar body at home, amid protests against his government.
Imagen por Justine Lane/EPA

The Organization of American States said on Monday it will create a mission to tackle graft in Honduras, where protestors have been pushing for an anti-corruption body like one that helped bring down the president of neighboring Guatemala earlier this month.

OAS secretary-general Luis Almagro unveiled the planned Mission to Support the Fight Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (or MACCIH by its acronym in Spanish) alongside Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez (pictured above at the United Nations), whom the protestors have been urging to resign.

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The MACCIH will be led by a legal expert and would establish an international panel of judges and prosecutors to supervise, advise, and support Honduran authorities investigating corruption, the Washington-based OAS said in a statement.

An anti-graft body backed by the United Nations and known as the CICIG has played a key role in uncovering corruption in Guatemala, which this month led to the resignation and arrest of President Otto Perez Molina, whom prosecutors accuse of involvement in a customs scam. Perez has denied any wrongdoing.

Related: The Corruption Crackdown in Guatemala Is Making Mexico Jealous

"We seek to make the justice system an effective tool in the fight against impunity, that manages to earn the respect of the people of Honduras and that becomes an essential part of the democratic system," Almagro said in Washington.

Hernandez's opponents in Honduras have called on him to stand down over his links to a $200-million corruption scandal at the Honduran Institute of Social Security, where companies, some formed by institute officials, overcharged for services. Hernandez has admitted his 2013 presidential campaign took some $150,000 from companies involved in the scandal, but said he and his party were unaware of where the money came from.

The OAS said the announcement of the MACCIH came in response to a request from the Honduran government on Sept. 14 for its support in strengthening the country's justice system.

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The MACCIH's mandate will include the creation of a "Justice Observatory" made up of Honduran academic organizations and civil society groups to assess reform of its justice system.

The OAS did not say when the mission would be set up but that it would send a delegation to Honduras "shortly" to begin the process.

Separately, President Hernandez said Sunday the United Nations will open a human rights monitoring office in Honduras this year to guard against possible violations by security forces as they crack down on drug gangs.

The militarization of the Central American country has helped stem gang bloodshed, Hernandez said, while disputing claims that his policy to "put a soldier on every corner" has resulted in a spike in rights violations.

Related: Guatemala's Jailed Ex-President Claims He Turned Down a Huge Bribe From 'El Chapo'

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