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H.R. 1918 (115th): Nicaragua Human Rights and Anticorruption Act of 2018

H.R. 1918 would require the President to oppose certain loans by international financial institutions that would benefit the government of Nicaragua until he can certify that the government of that country is taking effective steps to combat corruption and promote democracy, free speech, civil society and rule of law. Specifically the bill:

  • States that it is U.S. policy to support the rule of law and an independent judiciary and electoral council in Nicaragua; independent pro-democracy organizations in Nicaragua; free, fair, and transparent elections under international and domestic observers in Nicaragua; and anti-corruption and transparency efforts in Nicaragua;
  • Instructs the President to direct the U.S. executive directors at each international financial institution to use U.S. influence to oppose any loan for the government of Nicaragua’s benefit, other than those to promote human rights or democracy, unless the Department of State certifies that Nicaragua is taking effective steps to increase election integrity, promote democracy, strengthen the rule of law and respect freedom of association and expression;
  • Requires the Treasury Department to submit a report to Congress on the effectiveness of these program safeguards in Nicaragua;
  • Instructs the President to direct the U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States to use U.S. influence to advocate for an Electoral Observation Mission to be sent to Nicaragua in 2017;
  • States that the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development should prioritize foreign assistance to the people of Nicaragua to assist civil society in democracy and governance programs, including human rights documentation;
  • Requires the Department of State to report on the corruption in Nicaragua, including the involvement of senior Nicaraguan government officials in acts of public corruption or human rights violations in Nicaragua.
Last updated Oct 3, 2017. Source: Republican Policy Committee

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Dec 21, 2018.

Nicaragua Human Rights and Anticorruption Act of 2018 This bill imposes restrictions and sanctions on institutions and individuals responsible for the Nicaraguan government's violence and infringement of the civil rights of protesters.

The Department of the Treasury shall take action to restrict international financial institutions, including those affiliated with the World Bank Group and the Inter-American Development Bank, from extending financial or technical assistance to Nicaragua's government and to develop policies for future lending that will advance human rights in the country.

The President shall impose sanctions on foreign persons responsible for acts of corruption, significant human rights violations, violence against protesters in Nicaragua, or provided material support to such actions. Sanctions include blocking the assets of sanctioned individuals and barring them from entry into the United States.

The Department of State shall report to Congress about various topics, including Nicaragua's efforts strengthening the rule of law and democratic governance, combatting corruption, and protecting human rights. The President may temporarily waive the sanctions if the State Department certifies that Nicaragua has taken effective steps on these issues. The President may also waive the sanctions if it is in the national interests of the United States to do so.

The bill also directs the State Department devise a strategy for engaging Nicaragua's civil society to strengthen human rights protections and anti-corruption efforts.