Honduras death squads have been denied by the police chief and a five-star general after some people claimed the police murdered street kids and gang members.
At least several times this year, members of a Honduras street gang named the 18th Street gang, and the Mara Salvatrucha, claimed their members went missing or were killed after facing off against national police. These incidences have led to allegations of Honduras death squads, where police are intentionally murdering gang members.
The worst incident occurred in March of 2013, when the gang members claimed Honduras death squads surrounded several young men while armed and masked. The bodies of the young men were later found by families. Their hands had been bound so tightly the cords cut to the bone and they had been shot in the head.
The troubling part is that the United States sends $30 million in aid in order to support the Honduras police force. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State William Brownfield didn’t confirm or deny the rumors of Honduras death squads, but he did say the situation was tricky:
“The option is that if we don’t work with the police, we have to work with the armed forces, which almost everyone accepts to be worse than the police in terms of… taking matters in their own hands. Although the national police may have its defects at the moment, it is the lesser evil.”
Earlier in the year, Honduran National Police spokesman Julian Hernandez Reyes denied the existence of the Honduras death squads:
“There are no police death squads in Honduras. The only squads in place are made of police officers who give their lives for public safety.”
But very recently five-star General Juan Carlos Bonilla, who work with the United States on the war on drug trafficking in Honduras, admits bad things have happened, but denied they are based upon any orders he’s given:
“I can’t be on top of everything. Sometimes things will escape me. I’m human. [Excesses] happen, yes. We investigate them and act. You cannot use a word like ‘death squads,’ because there is no chain of command or an order by me, never, under any circumstances, to act illegally.”
But Alba Mejia, Deputy Director of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, says they have document hundreds of Honduras death squads cases since 2000:
“We are convinced that there is a government policy of killing gang members and that there is a team dedicated to this activity.”
What do you think of the allegations over Honduras death squads?