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Mr. YATRON. Before I ask you to give us your testimony, I would like to call on Congressman Leach, the ranking minority member, for a few comments.
Mr. LEACH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to note that as a member of the Banking Committee, as well as this subcommittee, I have followed with special interest the controversy over the proposal to drop the word "consistent" from the phrase "consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.'
In additional views which I appended to the report language accompanying the Banking Committee legislation, I associated myself with the intent of the Banking Committee in seeking to strengthen and clarify existing law governing the application of human rights criteria to U.S. votes on loans in the multilateral development banks. However, I also pointed out that I remained somewhat ambivalent over the precise legislative remedy proposed in the bill: that is, dropping the word "consistent."
While I am not certain that the human rights laws as they are now written are in any objective sense defective, the impetus to change them arises out of a sense of frustration that the spirit of those laws is being evaded. Administration arguments to the effect that a trend of improvement in human rights automatically implies an end to a consistent pattern of violations fail the test of
A trend of statistical improvements in the numbers of human rights violations in a foreign country cannot alone constitute sufficient grounds for making a legal determination that a country is not otherwise engaged in a consistent pattern of gross violations. Thus, while it may be factually correct to argue, as the administration does in the case of El Salvador, that there has been some improvement in the human rights situation as a result of a decline in the number of noncombatant deaths, it does not necessarily follow that the remaining levels of civilian deaths no longer represent a consistent pattern of human rights violations.
It is as if one were to argue in the days of Nazi Germany that the closing of Dachau and Auschwitz, while maintaining the gas chambers of Buchenwald, would represent sufficient improvement to warrant a legal determination that a consistent pattern of gross violations no longer existed. It is entirely possible to have, side-byside, a consistent pattern of violations as well as some discernible statistical trend toward improvement.
Again, while I am sympathetic to the desire of members to change the law, I wonder if we are not simply moving from one ambiguity to another. Do we have, with the human rights provisions of the Foreign Assistance Act, the same problems that the Banking Committee has had with section 701? If so, do we need the same remedy or a different one?
Furthermore, it seems to me that we ought to ask whether there aren't advantages to conforming U.S. human rights standards to those of U.N. resolutions where the terminology "consistent pattern" does have a certain precedent.
Finally, as the Banking Committee report points out in explaining committee intent in dropping the word "consistent" from section 701, the deletion is designed to clarify and strengthen congres
sional intent in existing law rather than drastically change it. Thus, the executive branch should under no circumstance infer from the action of the House on the Banking Committee bill that Congress accepts the present administration interpretation of consistent pattern elsewhere in the law.
Under both the pattern standard as well as the consistent pattern standard, a trend of improvement alone cannot be considered sufficient grounds on which to judge whether a pattern or a consistent pattern of violations exists. In other words, the change proposed in section 701 by the Banking Committee legislation should not be interpreted by the executive branch to suggest implicitly a substantially weaker standard or different threshold elsewhere in the law where the term "consistent pattern" remains.
Finally, I look forward to the hearing from our witnesses and particularly you, Mr. Patterson, who has taken the lead on this issue.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. YATRON. Mr. Patterson.
STATEMENT OF HON. JERRY M. PATTERSON, MEMBER OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA; CHAIRMAN, SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTIONS AND FINANCE, COMMITTEE ON BANKING, FINANCE AND URBAN AFFAIRS
Mr. PATTERSON. Mr. Chairman, I want to indicate to my colleague, Mr. Leach from Iowa, that we worked very well on our subcommittee and on the Banking Committee on this, and I think I can agree with everything you have indicated. There are perhaps some things that have happened since you left that might be brought out today, for example, that would hopefully encourage you to go along with the recommendation. I will review my testimony, and then comment on that.
Initially, the administration will be saying, as I understand it and as they have told us, the difference is merely an interpretation of law, and we don't need to change the law, which is similar to what you have indicated. But we have held hours and hours of meetings, and we have protested in some five countries, 13 different loans, and never once did the administration change its position nor its votes. So the hearing process doesn't seem to be deriving a meeting of the minds that makes any rational sense in my judgment.
In regard to the resolution of the United Nations, of course, they are not interpreting our laws or any international laws where they interpret the "consistent pattern." It seems that, when you use the word "consistent" in front of "pattern," the administration means that if there is one less killing in this month than last month, then it is not a "consistent pattern." In other words, if there were 10,000 deaths last month, and 9,999 this month, then the violation is not consistent, it is on the way down.
Now, if I may, I will revert to my written testimony.
We spent about 3 years of our subcommittee's time exploring as a major part of our functions, the enforcement of the statutes con
ditioning U.S. foreign aid on the human rights record of the recipient.
The consistent and apolitical enforcement of human rights provisions applicable to U.S. votes in the multilateral development banks is of great importance to my subcommittee and to myself. Concerns have been raised over the manner in which the laws have been enforced since their passage in 1977 and these concerns have intensified in recent years.
I am pleased to have the opportunity today to discuss with you what the House has done to meet these concerns with regard to legislation in the area of multilateral aid. I hope that this will be of use to you in considering whether to make changes in the similar provisions of law governing bilateral aid.
Careful attention to the enforcement of the letter and the spirit of our human rights legislation is crucial, I believe, to the maintenance of the U.S. role in supporting human rights. It is especially important for the United States to support human rights in countries where the United States has its greatest potential influence, those which request or receive aid financed by American taxpay
Vigorous enforcement of the human rights requirements is also critical to the maintenance of working majorities in Congress willing to support funding these institutions. A perception that enforcement of this law is uneven, lax, or politicized threatens to alienate precisely those Members of Congress who have traditionally provided the support for these bills.
We should recall that the language of the present section 701 only exists because a conference report on a 1977 MDB authorization which had less than stringent language was rejected on the floor of the House of Representatives, convincing the Carter administration that the House language it opposed would have to be accepted.
I think that this history also points out that problems have existed between Congress and administrations of both political parties concerning human rights laws. It is the natural tendency of every administration to want more discretion and it is a great task of Congress to make certain that a President does not have too much of a free hand in distributing taxpayers' money.
The multilateral development bank legislation this year made two changes in the human rights provisions adopted in 1977. The first set a deadline for receipt of the presently required quarterly human rights reports. The second provision changed the wording of Section 701. This legislation, including the human rights provision changes, passed through the House along with the IMF [International Monetary Fund] on August 3 as part of the International Recovery and Financial Stability Act.
In the law as it now stands, section 701(a) requires the U.S. Executive Director at each multilateral institution to use voice and vote to channel assistance toward countries other than those whose governments engage in "a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, such as torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges, or other flagrant denial to life, liberty, and security of person."
Subsection (f) then provides that the U.S. Executive Directors are "authorized and instructed to oppose any loan, any extension of financial assistance, or any technical assistance to any country" described in subsection (a), "unless such assistance is directed specifically to programs which serve the basic human needs of the citizens of such country."
The basic human needs clause loans allows us to support loans even to a human rights violator if the project funded meets basic needs, such as agricultural development, education, and sanitation. This assures that opposition to loans on human rights grounds will not cripple efforts to improve lives of people in developing countries, but will also not unnecessarily support their governments.
The bill deleted the word "consistent" from the phrase "consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights." This was done because of observations my subcommittee made during the long series of hearings during 1981 and 1982 about U.S. support for loans to such countries as Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Paraguay, South Korea, and Uruguay.
I emphasize this because Mr. Abrams-I understand he will be testifying here this afternoon-in a letter to the Banking Committee, suggested that hearings were the proper way to resolve differences over implementation of this section and I want to make it very clear that we have indeed held hearings.
The subcommittee heard over 13 hours of testimony from administration and private witnesses and published nearly 700 pages of material on the observance of section 701 requirements in general and with respect to these countries.
In addition, beginning in the 97th Congress, Congressman Tom Evans, the ranking minority member, and I sought advice from and held numerous consultations with officials of State and Treasury, lawyers specializing in international human rights and others with expertise in human rights law.
During our hearings, when discussing whether a country had a consistent pattern of gross violations, the administration generally used as its point of reference the highest level of official violence in recent years. Administration witnesses who appeared before the subcommittee held that any decrease from the highest level of violence experienced in a country meant that a consistent pattern did not exist even when there was agreement that substantial numbers of incidents continued to occur month after month. Administration testimony on Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay especially relied on this theory.
My conclusion is that the law is not being enforced as Congress intended. The administration witnesses said that they were perfectly willing to enforce the law, but it was written in such a way that it did not apply to countries such as Chile, Argentina, and the others we discussed. I looked for a way to clarify the law.
Deletion of the word "consistent" was of one several approaches considered to improve prospects for future enforcement of the law and to clarify the threshold at which a country's loan requests must be opposed. Other approaches, which we did reject, included naming specific countries and requiring prior congressional or committee approval for loans to some or all of the borrower countries.
The approach of naming a specific country was rejected as too inflexible.
The prior approval approach seemed incompatible with quick turnarounds that loan applications receive, and in light of the Supreme Court decision on the legislative veto it probably would not be effective. The deletion of the word "consistent," therefore, clarifies and strengthens, rather than drastically changes congressional intent and helps to clear up ambiguities which have dogged efforts to encourage evenhanded enforcement of section 701.
In making this change, we were attempting especially to deal with the argument that improvements in human rights records entitled countries to be exempted from the requirements of the law. The law does not refer to "improvement" and a change of the kind and scope of violations is not enough to change the requirement that the United States oppose loans to particular countries if a pattern of gross violations continues. This does not mean that improvements in human rights performance cannot be recognized.
There are, for purposes of section 701, three types of borrowers. First, with no human rights problems, those with problems that do not amount to a consistent pattern of gross violations, and those which are human rights violators. For countries with problems that don't meet the definition of "violator," the administration has discretion to take whatever action it feels is appropriate to encourage the development and observance of human rights.
For those below the threshold, the human rights violators, the administration has no discretion. Improvement by these countries, if they are not great enough to raise the country to nonviolator status, must be recognized by other means.
Unfortunately, there are many more devices at the administration's disposal which can be used to recognize and encourage improvements in a country which is still a human rights violator under the law. These include traditional diplomatic means-praising an improvement publicly, meeting with government officials, expediting allowable forms of aid such as basic human needs loans or Exim (Export/Import) loans, and other legal means of recognition. There will continue to be a need for the administration to exercise judgment in the enforcement of this law and there may continue to be disagreements between Congress and the administration on the handling of specific loan proposals. I expect, however, that with this change in section 701, the administration will not base its decisions on whether a country's highest level of violence against its own people has been maintained, but will seek instead to determine whether there exists at present a pattern of gross violations. Congress has a role in seeing to it that the laws we pass are carried out. If they are not carried out, Congress has an obligation to do what is necessary to make them clear and enforceable.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. YATRON. I want to thank our colleague for an excellent statement.
Mr. Patterson, if the word "consistent" is deleted from the provisions of the Foreign Assistance Act which prohibits economic aid from being provided to human rights violators, to which countries do you believe the administration will be obligated to terminate