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reporting is worse than last year.
Of the 22 reports we have examined, we find serious
distortions or inaccuracies in 12, those dealing with
Argentina, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Pakistan, the Philippines, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Zaire. Even some of these reports reflect improvements over those for the previous year. For example, the report on Colombia for 1981 dismissed the question of disappearances with just one sentence: "While allegations have been made, there were no confirmed cases of disappearances. In the report for 1982,
however, the information is provided that, "In 1981 the Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights alleged approximately 100 disappearances, the majority in rural areas. This information should have appeared in the previous year's report and the fact that it appears in the report for 1982 is an improvement. On the other hand the improvement is inadequate because the use of the words "alleged approximately" is misleading. The Permanent Committee tabulated a precise number of disappearances -97 and provided highly detailed information on the individuals who disappeared and the circumstances in which they were abducted. None of this information appears in the Report on Colombia for 1982. Nor does the Report for 1982 contain any information on disappearances in 1982 beyond the statement that, "With a few exceptions,
the information available at year's-end on alleged disappearances in 1982 is too disparate and inconsistent for inclusion at this time." Actually, there is a great deal of highly detailed information on disappearances for 1982 that is readily available from the Permanent Committee. The characterization of this information as "disparate and inconsistent" is without foundation. On the other hand, the section on disappearances in the Report on Colombia for 1982 contains some detailed information on kidnappings by guerrillas. This was absent from the Report for 1981 and appears to have been inserted in the Report for 1982 to offset the mention of disappearances attributable to the government and, perhaps, to justify those disappearances.
The method by which the matter of disappearances in Colombia is distorted in the 1982 report is characteristic of the distortions that appear in those reports that appear to have been affected by political biases. That is, outright falsehoods are generally avoided. Instead, information about abuses in some friendly countries though by no means all is presented in such a way as to diminish its impact and so as to justify or explain away abuses. A special effort appears to have been made to exculpate current leaders considered friends of the United States such as President Zia of Pakistan, President Rios Montt of Guatemala, President Evren of Turkey,
and President Mobutu of Zaire of responsibility for abuses
by blaming those abuses on historical developments.
The Report on Pakistan is illustrative of the
effort to explain away some abuses by description of historical context. It begins by stating that, "Throughout its three and a half decades of independence, Pakistan has been preoccupied with a search for its national identity. The social, political, economic, and regional differences which characterize Pakistan's diverse society have led frequently to political turmoil. As a result, Pakistan has been governed by martial law or other non-elected regimes for more than half its thirty-five years." Continuing at length in
this vein, the Report conveys the impression that what should be seen as the breakdown in the rule of law in Pakistan in the last five years and the institutionalization of one-man rule by President Zia-ul-Haq is actually the norm. Thus the greatly expanded role of summary military courts is described only as a means to "relieve the backlog of cases in the civil The resignation of the country's chief justice and four of six supreme court judges following a decree requiring an oath upholding President Zia's assumption of virtually unlimited constitutional power is trivialized in the Report as "what to some justices seemed to be an unconstitutional oath of allegiance."
For the most part, the distortions that appear in
the Country Reports for 1982 are not so great as to prevent informed policy-makers from grasping the essentials of the human rights situation in a particular country. Accordingly, the Country Reports for 1982 fulfill the purpose that Congress had in mind in requiring that they be prepared. The most important question that emerges from our review of the Country Reports for 1982 is whether the Reagan Administration will act in accordance with the information that it has
Our satisfaction with the
The Americas Watch, the Helsinki Watch and the Lawyers Committee for International Human Rights commend the Reagan Administration for its responsible, though seriously flawed, compilation of information. work that has been done on this report, however, is tempered by the awareness that the Reagan Administration shows little disposition to shape its policy to match its own fact-finding.. It is no small achievement, of course, for the Reagan Administration to have progressed from wanting to abolish the Country Reports when it assumed office two years ago to issuing such responsible Country Reports as we examine here. It will be a far greater achievement, however, if the Reagan Administration
develops a responsible human rights policy in its next two years that reflects the information it has now compiled.
LETTER FROM HON. ELLIOTT ABRAMS TO REPRESENTATIVE JIM LEACH TRANSMITTING THE ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS REGARDING THE PHRASE "CONSISTENT PATTERN"
ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE
October 25, 1983
OCT 3 1 1983
This is in response to your letter of October 6 in which you posed several questions about the phrase "consistent pattern" which we had discussed earlier at the September 21 hearing of the Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Organizations. As you requested, we are enclosing these responses for the hearing record.