Honduras congress passes law to purge police corruption

Tue Dec 18, 2012 9:15pm EST
 

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Honduras' congress passed a law on Tuesday to purge the police of corruption, a victory for the ruling party and President Porfirio Lobo after a recent conflict with the Central American country's highest court.

The law will require officers to undertake lie detector tests, drug screening and a probe of their personal wealth to determine if they can remain in the police force.

According to the United Nations, Honduras has the highest per capita homicide rate in the world, with 86 murders for every 100,000 inhabitants.

This initiative was declared unconstitutional by four Supreme Court judges last month, prompting lawmakers to dismiss the justices and name their replacements on December 12.

Alfredo Saavedra, the head of the opposition Liberal Party, said the dismissal of the judges was "a blow to democracy" and that it undermined the independence of the court.

Lobo had accused the judges of attacking institutions amid his growing belief there is a conspiracy to remove him from office in a coup similar to the ouster of former President Manuel Zelaya in June 2009, which plunged the country into a political crisis for months.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court had previously thrown out a tax on big companies and law aimed at attracting more foreign investment, deepening the dispute with Lobo and his party.

(Reporting By Gustavo Palencia; editing by Christopher Wilson)