Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras bans motorcycle passengers in anti-crime move

Forensic expert examines the car of Alfredo Landaverde
Image caption Police examine the car of Alfredo Landaverde after he was killed in a drive-by shooting

The Honduran Congress has voted to ban motorcyclists from riding with passengers in a bid to curb a spate of drive-by killings.

The move follows two high-profile murders this week, both blamed on gunmen on motorbikes.

Congress also approved a wiretapping law proposed as part of efforts to tackle crime but which has raised privacy concerns.

Honduras has the world's highest murder rate: 82 per 100,000 people a year.

During a session held in private because of security fears, legislators approved a decree limiting the number of people allowed on a motorbike to just one.

The measure, which will last for six months, was requested by President Porfirio Lobo, whose government is facing rising crime.

"We know it is going to affect a certain part of the population," congressman Erick Rodriguez was quoted as saying by El Heraldo newspaper.

But the country had to take steps against hired killers, he said.

Soldiers on patrol

Motorcycles have been used in several high-profile murders.

Image caption The army has been brought in to boost policing

Journalist Luz Marina Paz and her driver were shot dead on Tuesday as they drove through the capital, Tegucigalpa.

The following day men on motorcycles killed former government security adviser Alfredo Landaverde in his car.

Honduras is a key transit country for cocaine smuggled from South America and on to the US market.

Increasing encroachment by Mexican drug cartels, as well as the presence of violent street gangs, have increased insecurity in the country.

In November, the Honduran authorities began deploying troops to carry out policing duties.

The police force itself is undergoing a purge amid efforts to root out officers with links to organised crime.

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