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Outcry as Honduras relaxes corruption laws

Regional 08 Nov, 2021 Follow News

Waleska Zelaya benefits from the law changes

Honduras has passed controversial reform laws intended to combat corruption but the consensus is that it will make it easier for perpetrators to operate.

A package of controversial legislative reforms became law in Honduras last week, further sinking any lingering efforts to combat corruption.

The amendments to the penal code, criminal procedure code and money laundering law officially took effect on 1 November. The most controversial change specifies that as part of any action taken against money laundering, the Attorney General’s Office must prove that the specific assets being laundered are directly connected to particular crimes.

These reforms are strongly criticised internationally, including from the United Nations, and warnings that they will severely weaken Honduras reducing corruption.

Luis Javier Santos, head of the Special Prosecutor's Unit Against Corruption Networks (UFERCO), stated that the reforms would “consolidate impunity and weaken the fight against corruption, we will see the consequences shortly, it’s bad.”

The reforms are supported by members of the ruling National Party. One of them, Waleska Zelaya, was previously under investigation for a suspicious million-dollar sale of face masks during the pandemic.

All these legal changes have come under the mandate of the National Party, in power since 2010, and has seen a number of its members connected to illicit activities, ranging from drug trafficking to timber trafficking and embezzlement. US prosecutors have accused President Juan Orlando Hernández of protecting drug traffickers in exchange for drug money, though he denies those charges.

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