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CONSISTENT PATTERN OF GROSS VIOLATIONS OF INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED HUMAN RIGHTS." SECTION 502 (B) OF THE SAME ACT RESTRICTS SECURITY ASSISTANCE ON HUMAN RIGHTS GROUNDS AND EMPLOYS THE SPECIFIC
LANGUAGE WHICH WE ARE DISCUSSING.
THE AGRICULTURAL TRADE DEVELOPMENT AND ASSISTANCE ACT OF 1954, AS AMENDED, PRECLUDING AGREEMENT TO FINANCE SALE OF AGRICULTURAL COMMODITIES TO SUCH COUNTRIES, USES THE SAME LEGAL PHRASING AS DOES THE INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS ACT OF 1977 NOW UNDER DIS
TO RETURN TO MY MAY LETTER, (BEGIN QUOTE) CERTAINLY, THE CURRENT STATUTORY LANGUAGE HAS WORKED WELL AND CAUTION SHOULD BE EXERCISED BEFORE ANY CHANGE IN IT IS MADE.
SOME MEMBERS OF CONGRESS HAVE EXPRESSED CONCERN WITH RECENT
U.S. VOTES ON PARTICULAR COUNTRIES.
HOLD HEARINGS ON THOSE VOTES RATHER THAN TO ADD CONFUSION TO THE
INDIVIDUAL COUNTRIES SHOULD BE FULLY EXAMINED, BUT SHOULD NOT BE THE
IN ADDRESSING THIS COMMITTEE, I CAN ONLY ADD THAT WHAT WE SAID ABOUT INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS VOTING IN MAY CLEARLY APPLIES TO THE BROADER QUESTION OF UNITED STATES GOVERNMENTAL ASSISTANCE IN GENERAL. WE BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE A GENERAL OBLIGATION WHICH IS PHRASED IN THE PREAMBLE OF SECTION 701 OF THAT SAME ACT TO "PROMOTE" HUMAN RIGHTS BY OUR "VOICE AND VOTE." BY EXTENSION WE PROMOTE HUMAN RIGHTS BY OUR JUDGMENTS ON THE VARIOUS TYPES OF
ASSISTANCE QUESTIONS WHICH WE ADDRESS DAILY. SHOULD LEARNED MEN
AND WOMEN DISAGREE ON SUCH JUDGMENTS PERTAINING TO PARTICULAR COUNTRIES, WE BELIEVE THAT THE FORA TO DISCUSS THIS LIE IN CONGRESS.
WE WOULD FURTHER NOTE THAT SOME LEGAL WRITING IN THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION SYSTEM SUGGESTS THAT THE WORD "CONSISTENT" IS THE ELEMENT IN THE PHRASE "CONSISTENT PATTERN OF GROSS VIOLATIONS" WHICH IMPLIES THAT THE VIOLATIONS MUST OCCUR OVER A PERIOD OF TIME IN ORDER TO FALL WITHIN THE AMBIT OF THIS PHRASE. HOWEVER, THE WORD "PATTERN" CAN ALSO IMPLY THE PASSAGE OF TIME; THEREFORE, IT IS NOT CLEAR THAT ELIMINATING THE WORD "CONSISTENT" WOULD ALTER THE MEANING OF THIS PHRASE. IF THE PROPOSAL TO DROP THE WORD "CONSISTENT" WERE ADOPTED, ON THE THEORY THAT THE PHRASE SHOULD NOT APPLY TO CONDUCT OVER A PERIOD OF TIME, WE MIGHT RECOMMEND AGAINST ASSISTANCE TO COUNTRIES LIKE LIBERIA, WHERE A BURST OF SERIOUS HUMAN RIGHT VIOLATIONS OCCURRED WITH THE CHANGE OF GOVERNMENT IN APRIL OF 1980 BUT DID NOT CONTINUE. IN 1981 ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS HAD BEEN RELEASED AND BY 1982 THE RULE OF LAW HAD LARGELY RETURNED. THERE ARE ANALOGOUS SITUATIONS IN OTHER COUNTRIES. IF WE SIMPLY SAID NO AID TO COUNTRIES WITH A "PATTERN OF GROSS VIOLATIONS," SOME WOULD ARGUE THAT ANY NUMBER OF COUNTRIES WOULD BE THUS AFFECTED.
As I STATED EARLIER,
OF COURSE THIS IS NOT OUR INTERPRETATION.
TIME ELEMENT. THE POINT IS THAT ANY REVISION TO THE PRESENT LANGUAGE
IN FACT, IT IS NOT THE CURRENT STANDARD WHICH IS THE SUBJECT OF DISPUTE BUT THOSE JUDGMENTS WE HAVE MADE ON PARTICULAR COUNTRIES. A GREAT PART OF OUR DAY IS SPENT TRYING TO ACHIEVE FAIR AND
EQUITABLE DECISIONS WITHIN THE PREVAILING STATUTES, BY COMMON SENSE AND IN LIGHT OF THIS ADMINISTRATION'S CONTINUING COMMITMENT TO HUMAN RIGHTS IN GENERAL.
Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended
Human Rights. -- (a) No assistance may be provided under this part a/ to the government of any country which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, including torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges, or other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, and the security of person
Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended
Sec. 502B. Human Rights. -- (a) (2) Except under circumstance specified in this section, no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights
Agriculture Trade Development and Assistance Act of 1954, as amended
International Financial Institutions Act of 1977
Sec. 701 (a) The United States Government, in connection with its
(1) a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights
Mr. YATRON. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
Is Mr. Patterson right; is the administration using the word "consistent" as an excuse to avoid making a finding that serious abuses exist and that U.S. aid must be cut?
To be more specific, in your judgment, if country X goes from 100 gross violations per month, say, to 75 per month, has the pattern changed so that it is not consistent?
Mr. ABRAMS. I think it would depend on the nature of the violations, for one thing. If it is murder, it is one thing, and if it is brief periods of detention, it is another thing. That is one variable. I would say, certainly, we are not using the term "consistent" as an excuse, any more than we are using the term "gross" as an excuse. What we are trying to do is to figure out what it all means. It isn't clear what it means. It wasn't clear, I would say, if you look at the record of the Carter administration and this one; there were some anomalous votes in that administration, too, in extensions of aid.
The problem is the underlying assumption that in a sense the statute is self-executing. It is not, and it can't be in the nature of things.
Mr. YATRON. With respect to security assistance, economic assistance, and votes in the international institutions, is the State Department today, and specifically your Bureau, solely responsible for making the decision as to whether a consistent pattern of violations exists in a country?
Mr. ABRAMS. We have an Interagency Working Group on Human Rights, on which a number of agencies are represented, including, first all, Treasury. I think I would say that the State Department probably has the greatest influence in that working group, but these questions are discussed among the agencies of the Government.
We have not had a disagreement that had to be kicked upstairs to the Cabinet, or something like that. Perhaps Mr. Conrow from Treasury disagrees, but I think the primary responsibility is at the State Department and the Human Rights Bureau.
STATEMENT OF JAMES CONROW, OFFICE DIRECTOR, MULTILATERAL DEVELOPMENT BANKS, DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY
Mr. CONROW. We will be more than happy to give him the honor. [Laughter.]
Mr. YATRON. I think the key here is at whose desk does the buck stop?
Mr. ABRAMS. It stops at mine, although clearly others are involved in the supply of information and evaluation of it: primarily, I suppose, aside from the Human Rights Bureau, the geographical bureau of the country in question. I think statutorily and also the way it works in the real world, the prime responsibility is mine in the Human Rights Bureau.
Mr. CONROW. If I could explain, because I gave a rather glib response.
Mr. YATRON. Surely.
Mr. CONROW. The fact of the matter is, under the law, the Secretary of the Treasury is the U.S. Governor to the Multilateral De
velopment Banks, and as such he is responsible for instructing our Executive Directors on how to vote. The actual procedures used, based on the law, are that recommendations come from the Department of State on human rights issues, and that then is conveyed to our Executive Director through Treasury. Treasury instructs our Executive Director how to vote.
The point that Elliott is making is a very true one in that we at Treasury are not in a position to second-guess the State Department's position on human rights issues, and we have not attempted to do so. The only time we get into a discussion with State, that could be viewed as conflicting on this issue is on the question of timing.
Generally speaking, when we are going to change our position on a voting pattern to a country, we have to notify the Congress, the committees involved, of that intent, and we end up having a discussion with the State Department about the timing of that notification process more so than the substance of what State is proposing. Mr. YATRON. Has the State Department established criteria and procedures for determining internally whether a consistent pattern exists, and what procedures have you established to be sure that the law will be faithfully executed during your tenure at the Bureau?
Mr. ABRAMS. I don't think we have what you would call formal procedures. When a loan or an extension of foreign aid issue arises, what generally happens is that the officers in charge of that question in the Bureau of Human Rights might discuss it with officers of the geographical bureau. If there are disagreements, then I would get a report of what had come out of that conversation. If there were an agreement at that level, I would be asked to sign off. If there were disagreement, I would be asked what I wanted to do, whether we should fight it, or wanted to take it up to a higher level, to the Secretary.
The way things work, I think that is a pretty good procedure because it is a small bureau, and I suspect that handling it more formally would not work to guarantee a better examination of the facts of the case.
Mr. YATRON. Could you provide the subcommittee with copies of any documents which outline the criteria and procedures that you are using, including any opinions from the Office of Legal Advisor at the Department on the subject?
Mr. ABRAMS. Yes, in past years, we have asked questions about the term "consistent" ourselves, and I don't see any particular reason why we couldn't supply you with that. Let me supply that for the record, the discussion of how we handle these things internally.
[The subsequently submitted information follows:]
The Department of State, and by definition its Bureau of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs [HA], plays a key role in determining whether a country engages in a "consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights," but by no means the only role.
In this Administration we have sought to take fully into account a country's human rights record in light of all the statutory provisions before formulating a recommendation on whether that country should receive particular U.S. assistance. While we recognize that others may reach differing judgments, we believe we have