Central American groups found regional anti-corruption body

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Ten civic groups and transparency organizations launched a joint regional anti-corruption body Thursday covering Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

The groups said the Northern Central America Center Against Corruption and Impunity was created because they encountered resistance or difficulties in working on their own.

They also found they faced common challenges such as efforts by governments to weaken anti-corruption investigators, prosecutors and judges.

The center will seek to carry out investigations and legal work as well as propose reforms.

Manfredo Marroquín, head of Transparency International’s affiliate in Guatemala, said that “this initiative came about as we asked, what are we going to do about the attacks on judges and prosecutors who take on corruption?”

He added that in the region, “anti-corruption mechanisms are being dismantled, and there have been legal reforms that benefit those who are corrupt.”

White House Special Envoy Ricardo Zúñiga attended the launch of the new center, saying that the U.S. “will seek opportunities to cooperate” with its work.

The launch of the group came on the same day U.S. President Joe Biden issued a memorandum on the world-wide fight against corruption.

“Corruption is a risk to our national security, and we must recognize it as such,” Biden wrote. “The United States will lead by example and in partnership with allies, civil society, and the private sector to fight the scourge of corruption.”

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