Press Release

August 14, 2018
Cardin, Torres Legislation to Combat Corruption in Central America Becomes Law

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and U.S. Representative Norma J. Torres (D-CA) issued the following comments after President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law. The NDAA included a provision that will require the Secretary of State to provide Congress with a list of individuals, including government officials, who have committed serious acts of corruption, drug trafficking, and illicit campaign finance in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Torres originally introduced this provision as an amendment to the House version of the NDAA; Cardin introduced an identical amendment in the Senate.

“Human rights abuses and entrenched corruption in Central America have a direct impact on the national security of the United States, and the U.S. government should use all the tools at its disposal to name and shame, denying abusers and corrupt officials access to the U.S. and our financial institutions,” said Senator Cardin. “I’m pleased this provision is now law and I thank Congresswoman Torres and our colleagues for their efforts.”   

“Our provision sends a clear message that the United States is serious about the fight against corruption in Central America. We must do everything in our power to help ensure accountability,” said Representative Torres. “We must be willing to name names, and that’s what this legislation does. The Secretary of State now has 180 days to provide Congress with a list of names. It’s time to get to work.”        

The individuals named in the list required by the legislation could be subject to asset freezing and visa denial, under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee’s ranking member, is the co-author of both the 2016 Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and the 2012 Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act.

Torres is the founder and co-chair of the Central America Caucus and a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. In 2017, her resolution in support of the fight against corruption in Central America was approved by the House of Representatives.