« ÎnapoiContinuați »
(and then suffer penalties because they failed to produce expected results on time'). If donors conceptualize programs in terms of particular time-spans, based on donor internal needs, they may fail to take into account timetables which are realistic in the place where the program is to be implemented.
This can result in open encouragement to local officials to abuse the "client" popu.ation by forcing them to operate within guidelines and a time-frame which ignores local lifestyles and custom. Where donors design programs without sufficient attention with respect to its impact and tradeoffs for the local people, there are cases of donor-host government cooperation limits placed on their freedom of expression to see if it is not possible to extend what they can do. In Government bureaucracy there is a tendency toward 'non-decisions' and avoidance of initiative. There is little to guide one as to possible consequences of action taken in the present, and so individuals prefer to wait for some indication as to what might happen or, failing that, hoping that the issue will fade and no decision will be necessary after some time has passed. This is very costly to African societies and countries because their development needs require that decisions be made and that initiatives increase in frequency. Moreover the sense of insecurity means that few individuals are prepared to pay the potential costs of criticism. As a result, a decision which will harm development or some other national interest may go uncontested and have its negative impact although there are officials who recognize that this will happen.
Another set of political problems derives from the fragility and very newness of African states in their present form, compounded by the enthusiasm with which outside powers (governments as well as economic interests) meddle in African affairs. Since we are dealing with American policy, I believe that American meddling in the Congo (now Zaire) during the 1960s is a classic illustration of how political fragility of a new state combined with external intervention worked against every indigenous effort to create a stable political context or national institutions with some element of democratic processes.
I do not deny that Soviet and Chinese influence, or other Western influences are not also to blame. But the fact remains that Zaire was never given a chance. One may well ask whether Ethiopia has not been victimized equally by East and West, and whether or not human rights problems in Angola are entirely the fault of Angolans.
The mention of outside meddling cannot excuse the fact that internal political problems in Africa are also key contributing factors to human rights problems.
Within the African context, the power drive of Africa's first rulers and the limitations of the military heads of state have been important factors leading to problems. In the first instance, a particular blend of messianism and personalization of politics reduce all human rights to a status of gifts which the head of state might give or take at his (her) pleasure. The arbitrary nature of political power led to coups and brought the military to power in many states. But the military have never demonstrated that they are free of the wider problems in the societies they promised to reform and rule wisely. In fact, the army officers have tended to be short on patience and long on authoritarian impulses. The rule of law has not tended to fare well under their mace. There is evidence in 1979 that the military and civilian leaders have begun to realize their shortcomings and that violations of human rights have been a disservice to themselves and to their people. The examples of military return to civilian rule are increasing in number in Africa.
In the list of questions sent to me by your Subcommittees I was asked to identify the most serious violators of human rights in Africa. I feel somewhat relieved because the top three candidates are now off the list or at least one hopes so. I believe that in the case of Equatorial Guinea there is reason to be hesitant in coming to any quick determination about the new leaders since many were involved heavily in the very violations for which they executed former President Macias. In the case of Uganda, there is still a situation of widespread social disorder and the shifts in leadership, since President Amin was toppled, raise issues of outside meddling and questions as to where Uganda is headed. In the Central African Republic the change which occurred was imminent and we must wait to see whether the forces which maintained Bokassa in power have changed or are still present.
At the present time, the worst violator of human rights in Africa must be Southern Africa. Although there are bad situations elsewhere, as in Zaire, Guinea and Malawi, in these other countries the context is not always within the central government's control, the violations have never been as organized
59-7090 - 80 - 4
and on the scale of those in South Africa, and there have been some indications that the Governments are making an effort toward improving human rights conditions.
In Guinea there has been a steady liberalization since 1978, in part a response to western pressures as the price for renewing closer ties with President Sekou Toure's Government. In Malawi, the Government continues to restrict political activity, but Western demarches have helped in particular cases as with the Jehovah's Witnesses. In Zaire, human rights violations have become endemic: in 1978 prison conditions were so bad that detainees starved to death; there have been reports of torture in some prisons and brutality is common-place; there are allegations of ethnic favoritism and economic rights are almost inexistent for vast numbers of Zairians.
The official Department of State human rights reporting on Zaire has improved but it still reflects caution and unwillingness to say all that is known. Ethiopia is another country where there are very serious human rights problems.
I do not believe that the Subcommittees wish me to develop a shopping list of African problem countries, and I believe that the cases being sought are already well-known to members of the staff of both Subcommittees. The cases of Malawi, Guinea and Ethiopia have been raised by the United Nations Subcommission and Commission dealing with human rights as subordinate bodies of its Economic and Social Council. The OAU has taken some interest in the matter of the former Spanish Sahara, where the question of self-determination was circumvented by a pact between Morocco, Mauritania and Spain.
If I may return for a moment to Southern Africa, I do believe that with the disappearance of Amin, Macias and Bokassa, the Republic of South Africa must be viewed as the worst violator of human rights in Africa. These violations are of economic, social and cultural rights as well as civil and political rights. The fact that these rights are allowed for part of the population, as part of a system based on skin pigment, cannot blind one to the fact that this is part of the discrimination and violence which has deep roots in South Africa. Treatment of political prisoners in South Africa is frightening, and the exploitation of non-whites defies every United Nations, UNESCO and International Labor Organization declaration and convention touching upon human rights. It is important to bear this in mind when considering your next question which deals with the adequacy of State Department human rights reports. This is so because South Africa does not appear in those reports.
I must say that when I travel in Africa, where there is a growing awareness of human rights and a growing frankness concerning human rights problems all over Africa, there continues to be amazement and puzzlement as to why none of the reports issued by the United States Government mention South Africa. Some have asked me whether this is not a double standard. I realize that the legislation does not require such a report by the Department of State, but I would suggest that its inclusion in the future might lend greater credibility to these reports when they are read outside the United States. As for the adequacy, truthfullness and comparative effectiveness of State Department reporting compared with that of other organizations concerned with human rights, let me say first that the Department of State differs from groups like Amnesty International in that human rights is one of many concerns which it must deal. This concern in the State Department is still new, and there are still signs that it has not percolated down through the ranks.
I have visited many United States embassies in Africa and Asia in the past two years to discuss human rights and I would be lying if I did not say that there is still much confusion and skepticism concerning what the American human rights concern is or whether it should be there as part of our foreign policy. In at least one country, I was later informed that instructions were issued initially to give me a cool if not cold reception. In talking to embassy staff, it became clear that many wonder how the human rights policy affects them with respect to their career: if they are eager human rights officers or informants, their superiors may look askance upon that since it might create ripples and problems in the bilateral relations between the United States and the host government. Such problems might become issues that would place a particular embassy in a bad light, and make it difficult to produce positive results in winning the host country's support for other U.S. foreign policy interests.
A.I.D. mission people worry lest negative human rights reporting result in reduced commitment for their post which might mean a loss in personnel, a downgrading in the importance of their mission, and less opportunity for them to move money and projects which is the basis upon which their performance
will be judged with respect to career promotion and their next assignment. In essence I am saying that human rights has still not become an integral part of the U.S. foreign policy bureaucracy in such a way that there are positive incentives for AID or foreign service officers to pursue it very actively. Caution, downplaying negative points and seeking positive trends are the dominant thought responses to human rights queries and reporting.
Within the State Department and AlD, human rights advocates and officers are viewed by others with suspicions, caution and, in some instances, as "the enemy.” This problem persists, and it is not unusual for those U.S. officials with whom one is close to state bluntly that some wonder where the human rights policy will go if the current administration were not to be voted back into office in 1980. In part, I believe that this demonstrates their ignorance concerning the key role which the American Congress has played in making human rights part of American foreign policy. But it does demonstrate that foreign service officers and AID'bureaucrats recognize that if the Chief Executive isn't that committed, then the bureaucracies will seeks ways to avoid the issue and, while human rights would still be there in name, there would be a clear disincentive for inhouse action and active reporting.
In reviewing the 1978 reports issued by the Department of State in February 1979, I did note examples of understatement and caution bordering on being misleading when discussing torture and prison conditions in certain African states. I also noted that the reports on some countries with which I am familiar failed to include some information provided by observers and outside organizations. Many reports do indicate that the Department of State is making a greater effort to take account of reports by Amnesty International, the International League for Human Rights and the American tased Americans for Democratic Action. However, these are rephrased in more conditional terms than the origi. nal reports.
I believe that the Congress and others must avoid depending on the U.S. De partment of State for the last authoritative word with respect to any individual or group of states' human rights records. Congress must design a way to integrate reports by human rights NGOs (Nongovernmental Organizations) and to establish its own unit to watch human rights trends and situations as they develop.
I do not believe that State Department methods are as good as some of the human rights organization in part because some informants on human rights violations do not trust American embassies. In at least one country where I was told of many human rights problems, I was also informed that few persons are willing any more to tell this to the U.S. Embassy because they fear that the local government's intelligence will be informed and that they would suffer negative consequences. American officials sometimes refrain from dealing at length with non-official persons where they are stationed, and this limits their contacts and their opportunities to uncover human rights problems. Also, the emphasis on the official nature of the U.S. Embassy presence weighs Embassy opinion and evaluation in favor of the host Government and of its explanation and information. In some countries, the host Government has a deliberate policy of limiting U.S. embassy contacts with local people, and thereby removes the local embassy further from carrrying out its human rights reporting. Foreign visitors who uncover human rights problems may be more willing to give such information to an NGO than to an embassy, and in particular where they may disagree with the policy of that embassy's government in the country where the human rights problems exist. All of this adds up to the fact that American embassies cannot be compared to the NGOs and other organizations interested in human rights.
As I stated earlier, the problems with human rights policy being accepted internally by foreign service officers are an inhibiting factor when it comes to having U.S. Department of State personnel playing a role with respect to human rights problems. Where instructions are sent, the local embassy may raise the question with proper local officials, although not always with the finesse and approach that a human rights advocate might desire. However, as I was told in one embassy, there was no specific budget line or additional personnel assigned to help take care of human rights reporting and so the already overworked staff found it difficult to really spend that much time on it. One can only hope that as the policy continues these quirks will be worked out and that American reporting and work on human rights problems will improve.
I am hopeful that it will improve because there are demonstrable positive results in Africa where the United States has raised its voice on human rights.
To the extent that efforts have occurred to provide for the basic human needs of the average Zairian, it has been in part a response to American insistence or
a direct result of positive American action as well as that of UN Agencies, refugee organizations and church groups. I can recall sitting in the State Department when the human rights office received news that the Government of a southern African country was letting up in its harassment of political oppositionists as a direct result of American pressures. I believe that the United States can and should continue to do this. When I travel in Africa and Asia, a number of individuals ask why the United States does not do more.
Certainly, the United States should step up pressure on South Africa. Where the violations of human rights become rather severe, the United States is viewed as contributing to them if it continues its aid at former levels. The local people, and in particular the middle-level individuals in society, view continued US aid as indication of continued support even if that support is not there. And the government or governments in question point to continued US aid as a sign of continued support. It also raises questions about consistency in US human rights foreign policy and leads to attacks on that policy as being politically motivated. This is true particularly where the aid is of a military nature. However, it is also true where other aid is extended but never reaches the beneficiaries for whom the US intended it (or does so at a cost which is too high for them to take advantage of it). There is also an argument that such aid can provide enough in the way of resources for the government to continue its violations of human rights while having more resources available to it to prevent popular resistance or rebellion. Policy-makers and legislators should also evaluate the human rights implications of such “neutral” activities as investment in South Africa.
I would not want to make it appear as if the United States has the influence, the inclination or the opportunity to serve as a human rights watchdog and supervisor for Africa, nor should it. I believe that to the extent we do have relationships with Africa, human rights must be an active part of them. I also believe that in the United Nations and elsewhere we should support pressures on governments to reform and assist in any way possible to help governments overcome human rights problems. Where reform and help is not possible, we should refrain from involvement which might help or be exploited by a government which is engaged in violations of human rights of a serious and continuous nature. But the United Sta must also recognize and encourage efforts by Africans to look after their own problems, and there is growing evidence that more and more Africans and African leaders are prepared to do just that.
In 1979 the OAU decided that it was time for Africa to have a Human Rights Charter. Calls for an African human rights commission had surfaced in the 1960s and were reiterated on several occasions in the 1970s. It may well now be that the Charter and a human rights commission will become a regional reality. Part of the hope resides in other events in the last five years: in 1976, the OAU investigated the massacre of Comorians in Madagascar and submitted a report said to be highly critical of the Malagasy authorities. In 1979, five African states appointed representatives to inquire into allegations of human rights violations in the Central African Empire and their report implicated former Emperor Bokassa and also contributed to his eviction from power.
For a number of years, the African Bar Association has sent protest cables to African governments which violate human rights with respect to unfair detention and trial procedures. The African Bar Association has sent delegates to several countries to make the protest in person. In 1975, and since then, the All Africa Conference of Churches gathered Africans together to debate human rights violations in all parts of the continent. Most recently, in January 1979, they were the key force in convening an African conference on refugees at Arusha (Tanzania) where human rights was a major topic of discussion. The Arusha conference placed human rights on the top of Africa's agenda for action on refugees and urged all African states to ratify international human rights instruments.
At the United Nations, African states represented on the Human Rights Commission have supported raising human rights problems in other African states, including Uganda, Equatorial Guinea and Ethiopia. There is evidence that African heads of state use their influence to obtain the release of political prisoners in other African states. It is clear that the record is not an outstanding one, but given the newness of the decision to review human rights outside southern Africa it is heartening. There have also been six major conferences in Africa on human rights since 1975, with signs of a growing intensity among Africans in their commitment to protecting human rights throughout the continent. Therefore, I believe that it is possible for African countries to join together more effectively to address their own problems. I believe and I
urge the United States to help Africans to achieve this, and to avoid getting too far out in front of the African efforts while not restricting U.S. direct and indirect encouragement only to official groups.
There is an emerging all Africa Bar Association which views itself as having a human rights vocation; there are at least two human rights centers established in Africa to study and make recommendations concerning human rights; there are local sections and members of transnational human rights NGOs like Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists; and there are many Africans excited by the possibility of positive action to improve human rights conditions in Africa. All of these persons and groups should be encouraged, and the United States Congress and Government should seek ways of cooperating with them.
Mr. BONKER. Thank you, Mr. Weinstein. We have a recorded vote now, but there are at least 10 minutes before we have to dash over to the floor. We will proceed with our last witness, Mr. Gastil, who is director of the Comparative Survey of Freedom of the Freedom House Foundation. If you go beyond 10 minutes, we will have to interrupt and go over and vote, but we will come back for questions.
STATEMENT OF RAYMOND D. GASTIL, DIRECTOR, COMPARATIVE
SURVEY OF FREEDOM, FREEDOM HOUSE Mr. GASTIL. Established in the early 1940's in reaction to the Fascist threat to democratic institutions, Freedom House has continued to be dedicated to the struggle against tyranny, whether the threat be from the right or left. Since 1972 Freedom House's "Comparative Survey of Freedom” has monitored the condition of freedom in the countries of the world by rating political rights and civil liberties. Political rights are observed most fully where there are competitive political processes offering voters a choice among alternative policies. Political rights are at their lowest level where the people are allowed no meaningful choices. Civil liberties are most respected where there are free media, willing and able to oppose the government, no prisoners of conscience, open public discussion, freedom of movement and an absence of terror. At the other extreme we find governments that allow no discussion, frequently imprison their opponents, and restrict the movement of all.
The surveys are published each January in our journal, Freedom At Issue, and more fully in our yearbooks, Freedom in the World: Political Rights and Civil Liberties.
I take part in this joint hearing not because I have particular knowledge of Africa but because in applying these criteria to Africa year after year I represent experience in a judgmental area with which you are concerned. With this in mind let me then turn to some of the questions you have addressed to witnesses in your correspondence.
The African countries with the most serious violations of human rights in terms of the survey are those that rank at the bottom in both political rights and civil liberties. As of last March these were: Angola, Benin, Burundi, Central African Empire, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mozambique, Somalia, and Uganda.
The situation is always changing. Since March there have been major changes in Uganda, Central African Empire and Equatorial Guinea, and some improvement in human rights has evidently occurred.
The least free African States are for the most part controlled by terror; opposition to the system leads to imprisonment or execution.