The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) announced that after their special «Shadow Diplomats», an investigation in which Contracorriente participated in collaboration with the Centro Latinoamericano de Investigación Periodística (CLIP), multiple governments announced the termination or revision of their honorary consul titles. The government of Jordan announced the ending of the position, which was served by Honduran businessman Shucri Kafie, which was in the role as Honorary Consul of Jordan in Honduras since 1984.
Text: Celia Pousset
Translated by: Jorge Paz Reyes
On November 14, Contracorriente published a report on the Kafie family and how several of its members used diplomacy for personal gain. This work was part of a global investigation led by ICIJ that identified more than 500 honorary consuls indicted or involved in controversies around the world.
Recently, the ICIJ revealed that Jordan, Israel and Lituania announced that some of their honorary counsels – whose suspicious actions had been published in the investigation «Shadow Diplomats»- had had their positions terminated. The question remains as to how this happened: did they resign? Were they dismissed? Did the publication of the special report influence the decision?
Shucry Kafie was not removed from its honorary council position when he became involved in the embezzlement of the Honduran Institute of Social Security (public healthcare system) in 2015. He faced trial for the crime of swindling the public administration when he served as president of the board of directors of Distribuidora Metropolitana S.A (Dimesa) which according to the Public Ministry, overvalued contracts for the sale of medical equipment between 42.90% and 46.31%. After the trial, Shucry Kafie walked out free and the charges were officially dismissed in 2019.
The Contracorriente’s investigation pointed out that in the trial, the Kafie’s defense used his title of honorary council to obtain special privileges related to jail time and the ability to travel in and out of the country. During the trial in 2016, the judge explained: «In relation to the measure of not leaving the country, it is only imposed on Mr. Juan Madrid Casaca, because in the case of Mr. Shucri Luis Kafie Larach, the judge, taking into account his position as honorary consul, ordered that it not be applied to him».
Shortly after the publication, after 30 years of service, a Jordanian official explained that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan approved the termination of Shucry Kafie’s honorary consulate in Tegucigalpa, and other six honorary consul titles as part of a general restructuring framework.
In early January, Josué Rodríguez, the person in charge of consular affairs at the Foreign Ministry, told Contracorriente that he had not received official notification of this change from the Arab country and that the last time he had met with Shucry Kafie was when he requested the renewal of his consular card, because he had lost it.
Other consuls affected after the publication of “Shadow Diplomats”
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) revealed that in Latvia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the launching of an investigation into the honorary consul representing Indonesia, who tried to use his diplomatic immunity when charged for assaulting his wife. The honorary consul told ICIJ that his lawyer suggested he mention his position to obtain immunity, but «unfortunately, since the judicial process had already started, the status of honorary consul did not help».
In Israel «Shadow Diplomats» revealed that one of its honorary consuls had been convicted of fraud and other had been accused of corruption, money laundering, Illegal diamond trafficking and rape. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs from Israel announced that they’ll revised the status of two honorary consuls that still hold the position: one has been a key witness in a corruption case in Africa; the other used his role as consul to prevent Italian police from raiding his home as part of an investigation into illicit political financing.
In Spain, there is an ongoing investigation into multiple honorary consuls, which have been linked to money laundering. In addition, journalists from the local newspaper El Periódicoreceived a police report which states that a member of Barcelona’s elite, allegedly linked to drug trafficking, paid more than 20,000 euros to honorary consuls to obtain favors, since they are close to officials. Noe of the consuls have been charged yet.
To be an honorary consul is to work for diplomacy in an honorary way, without a salary; it is to be an influential personality who manages good contracts in the country where she or he lives to promote investment and facilitate international projects. But in Honduras, as in other countries, some honorary consuls have used their status to benefit themselves, to recreate a closed world whose entries are made almost hereditarily and to escape justice.
So far, no official in Honduras has commented on the «Shady Diplomats». Before, eight members of the Kafie family carried a consular ID; now there are seven.
To read the full story of Shucri Kafie and its dubious connection in Honduras check out: «The Kafies: A Story of Honduran Elities, Honorary Consuls, and their dubious International Ties».