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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Human Rights and Humanitarian Challenges in Central America

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - 1:00pm
2255 Rayburn House Office Building


Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on the human rights and humanitarian situation in Central America.

Thirty-five years ago, Central America was in the news in the United States on an almost daily basis due to internal armed conflicts in three countries: El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Today, some developments in the region barely register as newsworthy, but have far-reaching implications for the United States. Widespread insecurity, violence, fragile political and judicial systems, persistent impunity, corruption and high levels of poverty and unemployment help explain why thousands flee the region in search of a safe haven, asylum, or the chance at a better life for their families. In FY2016, U.S. authorities at the southwestern border apprehended nearly 200,000 unauthorized migrants from the northern triangle, more than half of whom were unaccompanied children or families, many seeking humanitarian protection.

In 2016, Congress approved, on a bipartisan basis, funding for a new U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America meant to address some of the major security, governance, and economic problems the region faces. The Trump administration ratified its commitment to this effort in a May 2017 conference on Security and Prosperity in Central America that was led by Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and then-Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly. But implementation has been slow and change on the ground requires time and sustained commitment. 

Witnesses will provide an update on the quality of democracy in the region; the relationship between corruption, organized crime and human rights violations; some of the significant human rights problems affecting the region -- including extrajudicial executions, high rates of sexual and gender-based violence, internal displacement and the reduction of space for civil society activity -- and the state of the countries’ capacity to address the resulting humanitarian crisis.

This hearing will be open to Members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public, and the media. The hearing will be livestreamed via the Commission website, For any questions, please contact Kimberly Stanton at 202-225-3599 or (for Mr. McGovern) or Jamie Staley at 202-226-1516 or (for Mr. Hultgren). 

Hosted by:

James P. McGovern, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC
Randy Hultgren, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC

Opening Remarks


Panel I

  • Chiara Cardoletti-Carroll, Deputy Regional Representative, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)

Panel II

  • Carlos Ponce, Director for Latin American Programs, Freedom House
    Wriitten testimony
  • Adriana Beltran, Senior Associate for Citizen Security, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)
    Written testimony
  • Lisa Haugaard, Executive Director, Latin America Working Group Education Fund (LAWG)
    Written testimony
  • Rachel Dotson, Gender and Migration Initiatives Director, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)
    Written testimony
  • Ashley Feasley, Director of Policy, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Migration and Refugee Services
    Written testimony


Submitted for the Record




115th Congress