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Attorneys General in Central America: Central America Caucus Co-Chairs Valadao and Torres Lead Bipartisan Call for Transparency in Selection Processes

March 14, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, a bipartisan group of 14 Members of Congress sent a letter to the Deputy Secretary of State, John Sullivan, underscoring the importance of the upcoming selection processes for new Attorneys General in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The letter comes as Guatemala formally begins the process of selecting its next Attorney General; within the next twelve months, each of the Northern Triangle countries will select a new Attorney General.

The current Attorneys General in the Northern Triangle have earned international praise for their efforts to fight corruption and organized crime; Guatemalan Attorney General Thelma Aldana was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2017.

The letter noted that each of the Attorneys General “has shown a willingness to cooperate with the United States, as well as the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and the Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH).”

The Members of Congress also urged the Northern Triangle governments to “prioritize the selection of candidates who have impeccable legal credentials and who have demonstrated a clear commitment to transparency, anti-corruption efforts, judicial independence, and adherence to the rule of law.” 

The letter was drafted and circulated by the co-Chairs of the Central America Caucus, David G. Valadao (R-CA) and Norma J. Torres (D-CA); it was signed by twelve additional members of Congress, six Democrats and six Republicans. The co-signers were: Representatives Michael T. McCaul (R-TX), Eliot L. Engel (D-CA), Paul Cook (R-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Kay Ganger (R-TX), Robin L. Kelly (D-IL),  John R. Moolenaar (R-MI), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Francis Rooney (R-FL), and Ruben Gallego (D-AZ).

 

The letter text is below. You can view the original letter here.

 

Dear Deputy Secretary Sullivan,

As strong supporters of the U.S. Strategy for Central America and the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle, we write to express our support for strong U.S. engagement with the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, and to affirm the importance of the selection of new Attorneys General in the Northern Triangle. These positions are critical to advancing U.S. interests and regional prosperity, so we urge these governments to prioritize the selection of candidates who have impeccable legal credentials and who have demonstrated a clear commitment to transparency, anti-corruption efforts, judicial independence, and adherence to the rule of law.

Strengthening the capacity and independence of public prosecutors in the Northern Triangle is an important policy priority for the United States. The Administration and Congress have recognized, on a bipartisan basis, that prosecutors in the Northern Triangle are key to dismantling the transnational criminal organizations that threaten our borders, reducing the violence driving Central Americans to flee their communities; and rooting out the widespread corruption and impunity that plagues these countries.  Accordingly, in Fiscal Year 2017, Congress designated significant funds for the provision of technical assistance to the public prosecutors in each of the Northern Triangle countries.

The current Attorneys General in the Northern Triangle have demonstrated a clear commitment to upholding the rule of law. Each has shown a willingness to cooperate with the United States, as well as the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and the Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH).

Over the course of the next year, each of the Northern Triangle countries will carry out selection processes to choose new Attorneys General. It is essential that these selection processes be carried out in a transparent, thorough, and objective manner, permitting the active participation of civil society and the impartial evaluation of candidates. To that end, we encourage you to convey to the appropriate authorities the United States’ strong interest in these selection processes, and to offer technical assistance, should it be required.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this important request.

Sincerely,