Thursday, June 13, 2013

DNIC Back To Work

More than 1400 employees of the Dirección Nacional de Investigación Criminal (DNIC) returned to work on Monday after super-Minister Arturo Corrales reversed himself (he had said their jobs were suspended) and ordered them to return to work.

An unnamed agent told La Tribuna that probably Minister Corrales was being badly advised because you can't suspend the investigative work in a country where there are an average of 20 murders daily, over 7000 a year.  Each of the investigators manages an average of 300 open cases at a time.

Its also likely that Corrales did the math. 

The first 100 DNIC agents will take the confidence tests this week, and they hope that 200 can take the tests next week.  If they can continue on that pace (and they never have) it would take a full 7 weeks to test all the DNIC agents, and if you think about it, you really can't allow all crimes to go uninvestigated for 7 weeks.  That would create more impunity, causing more crime.

Once a sufficient body of DNIC agents have passed the confidence tests, they will be assigned to the new Fuerza de Tarea Policial de Investigaciones (FTPI) along with agents of the Dirección Nacional de Servicios Especiales de Investigación (DNSEI).

Agents of the DNSEI have not undergone the confidence tests and Corrales has not ordered them to be tested before they join the new FTPI.

Anyone else see a problem here?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Visa Impossible

The US Embassy in Tegucigalpa announced today that its United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office in Tegucigalpa will close effective June 20.  USCIS, formerly known as the INS, a division of Homeland Security, provides visa services to Hondurans who want to travel to the United States.  As of June 21, these services will be available for Hondurans only from the US Embassy USCIS office in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Civilian Policing "Reform" Consolidates Power

Investigation of crimes came to a screeching halt Tuesday in Honduras as Security and Defense Minister Arturo Corrales ordered the suspension of all 2,200 members (approximately 1400 police and 800 employees)  of the Dirección Nacional de Investigación Criminal (DNIC).

Corrales further ordered that organizationally the DNIC should be merged with the Dirección Nacional de Servicios Especiales de Investigación (DNSEI).  Corrales is calling the merged group, the Fuerza de Tarea Policial de Investigacion (FTPI) which loosely translates as "Police Investigation Working Group".

This is basically a take-over of the resources, personnel, and equipment of the DNIC by the DNSEI whose head is now in charge of the merged organization.  It is a further step toward militarization of civilian policing, which began with the centralization of military and police under Corrales.

Yesterday DNSEI personnel examined the offices and equipment of the closed DNIC offices and made plans for their use.

Members of the ordinary police arrived at DNIC facilities across the country and escorted all employees from the building and padlocked them.

Citizens are now supposed to report crimes to this new working group, but Corrales forgot to order the dissemination of that information to the public, or tell them the new locations to do so.

Corrales explained his action as derived from the fact that the DNIC was leaking information to organized crime.  All 2200 employees, country wide, are suspended until they have submitted to, and passed, the police confidence tests.

Not that those tests have been ordered or scheduled. 

The result was that DNIC police and employees staged public rallies Wednesday and Thursday asking to return to work while they wait for their confidence tests to be scheduled.  They issued a public statement applauding the decision to ask them to submit to the confidence tests but asked that their rights be preserved, including the right to an assumption of innocence.  They called the current plan "improvised" and said that criminals currently held will go free because of the lack of investigation.  They further suggested that Corrales should have created a schedule for their testing and allowed them to continue working until the tests can be done rather than suspending all of them, "denying justice to Hondurans."

On Thursday several hundred of the protesters took over the former DNIC offices by force, throwing out the DNSEI officers who were there including the man who nominally is their new boss, Alex Villanueva Meza, the head of the FTPI.

A lawyer for the officers arbitrarily dismissed began legal action to get them reinstated because their suspension violated their rights to due process and presumption of innocence.

A sargent with 26 years of experience in the DNIC said:
Our families feel bad; they [the government] consider us a bunch of criminals; they should give us the confidence tests and those that they have to fire, they should fire....The objective [here] is to mark us as criminals without paying us a lempira of the funds they legally have to and go back to the 1980s, fire the police to put the military in our place.

In Honduras, the reference to the 1980s would resonate: this was the last time that civilian policing was linked to the military.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Culture Update

The Honduran Secretary of Culture, Arts, and Sports (SCAD), Tulio Mariano Gonzalez, has been criticized fiercely for failure to support national cultural institutions, many of which are warning that without funding, they may have to close.

Gonzalez told reporters last week that the administration of Porfirio Lobo Sosa does not intend to close any cultural institutions.  He specifically told reporters it was not their intention to close national schools like the National Academy of Art.  Gonzalez said:
there is no danger of any museum closing...we invite those who lie and manipulate to visit museums.

It was a strange response to the series of press reports on cultural institutions in danger of closing.  It echoes his response to the director of the Casa de Morazan historical house museum, who announced the museum would close on June 30.  At that time Gonzalez said:
"The Morazan House museum should be open".

He offered to meet with employees of the Casa de Morazan, but did not offer more funding. 

What he did do was arrange with the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History to loan 42 historical objects and paintings to the museum, which still is warning it will close for lack of funding.

It has been two years since the government allocated any budget to the National School of Art. According to faculty member Gabriel Zaldívar:
The school is in a crisis situation, it is acephalic and the post of director was abolished [by the government], there are problems in the building, a lack of equipment and supplies to teach classes.

With the Minister of Culture refusing to respond, the Art School will seek a meeting with the Minister of Education to look for a solution.
Meanwhile, the Casa de Morazan museum began its countdown to closing at the end of June.

SCAD response?  We will not permit any museum to close. But don't ask us for any money.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

US Embassy: Police Cleanup Failure

Monday, the United States suspended all aid it was giving the Honduran Dirección de Investigación y Evaluación de la Carrera Policial (DIECP). 

The DIECP is responsible for carrying out the confidence testing of Honduran police, part of a process to weed out those who should not be police.  

A US embassy employee who did not want to be named told El Tiempo:
Hondurans have expressed their frustration with the slow progress of the confidence testing of the's a frustration that we share and as a result, we have suspended the aid from the United States to the DIECP.

The funds, among other things used to pay for foreign lie detector contractors, to assist the DIECP, come from the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI).

It's been apparent for a while that the DIECP wasn't working well. 

Earlier this year Porfirio Lobo Sosa "accepted" (after requesting) the resignations of Eduardo Villanueva, the DIECP director, and his deputy.  However, both continue to serve because Porfirio Lobo Sosa has made no effort to appoint replacements.

As of Tuesday, Villanueva told El Tiempo that he had received no notice from the US Embassy of the funding cuts.