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Mr. ABRAMS. Yes, I do, Congressman. I would point out that the human rights record in El Salvador is improving. As you noted, the number of killings has gone down, and the general behavior of the military in this respect is better.

It is interesting to note that the Carter administration, which was in office in a period in which the human rights situation in El Salvador was in many ways much worse, never declared it to be a gross and consistent violator and in fact, declared it to be eligible for military aid. Now the human rights situation is better. It would be very odd indeed to say that all of a sudden they are not entitled to military aid while they were improving where they had been entitled to military aid when the situation was worse. Now, it is improving.

I do not know how one defines-and I guess everyone would differ on this-a gross pattern of consistent violations. Our sense is that you have their government whose forces, security forces, have no doubt, there is no question about it, at times grossly abused human rights in the worst way-murder, torture. But you also have a government that at the same time is reducing the amount of violence in the country, which is undertaking a massive land reform program, which has held-and this was the army that was really responsible for the security of this-a free election for the first time in a long time in Salvador's history.

So our view is, and it is also my personal view, that the Government of El Salvador is entitled to military aid under that legal standard. The policy question, of course, is a different one. Of course, I would strongly urge that it is also wise policy to give them that aid.

Mr. LEACH. Well, I recognize that you differ with me, although I find some irony in the logic that this administration is hiding behind the skirts of Carter's foreign policy. But let me go on to a different subject.

Mr. ABRAMS. It is easily upheld by many Democrats, and I was merely suggesting that if El Salvador was good enough for them it would be now odd for the Democrats to say it is not good enough for us.

Mr. LEACH. Fair enough.

Mr. SOLOMON. When improvements have been made. Excuse me. Mr. LEACH. In your opening statement you refer to the awful situation of the 22 Baha'is who are on death row in Iran today. Over 100 have been already killed. I would like to ask a question relating to the U.S. Government's responsibilities, with respect to the Baha'is in this situation. Right now there are approximately 800 Baha'is that are in a Catch-22 situation, being outside of Iran but ineligible for parole into the United States of America because they are in countries to which they have escaped from Iran so their lives are not in jeopardy.

I would suggest to you that the Department should give serious consideration to making a category of parole for the Baha'is. It is not enough for our Government to say that the Government of Iran is treating people very badly. We ourselves have a responsibility to people who are truly in terrible, terrible straits.

Is there any discussion in the Department relating to the situation of the Baha'is who are outside of Iran?

Mr. ABRAMS. We have taken one step which would help a number of people. That is, the refugee program for Iranians is in effect this fiscal year, having been taken up with Congress and approved by Congress. This would allow Iranians who are outside Iran, primarily in Europe, to come to the United States.

There is a desire always-and I think it is an understandable one-to make sure that these problems are internationalized; that is, that we not be the only country that helps. I think that in fact we have done a great deal with respect to refugees from Iran, including Baha'is, who as you know are entitled to asylum on religious grounds in this country.

But I do believe you raise a very good question with respect to humanitarian parole. We try to pay very careful attention to those cases when they come to the Human Rights Bureau, and I promise you that we intend to continue doing that.

Mr. LEACH. Mr. Chairman, I would like to raise one more question that relates to the jurisdiction of this subcommittee. We have jurisdiction over international environmental issues. This last week a very troubling issue was raised when the Department of Justice declared that three films from Canada would be placed on some sort of special list.

Many of us felt that it might be an exaggeration to say that this is a harbinger of McCarthyism, but it certainly sent a chilling message to many Americans about individual liberty. A lot of us also felt that if we spent more time being concerned about the issues of arms control and the effects of acid rain and then resolution, rather than putting movies on lists, we would be a healthier society.

My question to you is, did the Justice Department at any point consult the Department of State on this issue? The ramifications are great for human rights in the sense that how can we argue for human rights abroad if we are not very carefully protecting individual liberties at home.

Second, what was the role of the State Department in advising the Justice Department on this very sensitive United States-Canadian issue?

Mr. ABRAMS. I would say first that I think your description of the events, not simply today but in other statements, is incorrect. There is on the books a law, the Foreign Agents Registration Act. It has been on the books for about 45 years. It requires-there is no leeway here that when a foreign government agency makes a film about public policy issues it must be identified at the end of the film, not that it is political propaganda but that simply the origin is a foreign government.

Every administration for 45 years has been doing that and we have been doing it. We have done it over the past 2 years in roughly 40 cases involving films from a number of countries, including South Korea, South Africa, Israel, where the government or a government agency made the film.

The decision to do that in this case was made at the relatively low level by a career employee. This was an individual's decision who knew how the Foreign Agents Registration Act is employed and knew that since these films are made and distributed by a gov

ernment agency, the National Film Board of Canada, that the act had to apply.

Now, that was simply applying the law. They did not consult the Human Rights Bureau. But had they consulted us, my only statement would have been that if that is the law, that is the law.

I think it is wrong to criticize the Department of Justice for enforcing that law. I think those who have discussed this issue with the press have frequently not reviewed or not known that it happens to dozens of movies each year that come from foreign governments.

If the law is silly, if you believe the law is silly, then it should be amended. But we do not have the luxury of taking a film of a government agency and ignoring the fact that there is the Foreign Agents Registration Act on the books.

Mr. LEACH. That sounds convincing, with one single exception. Are you trying to tell us that in the past 2 years there have only been 40 foreign government films shown in the United States of America? The point is that there have been many more than that. Somewhere discretion has been applied. Someone is making decisions on what political propaganda is. The definition of the Department of Justice is definition which implies that it is propaganda if it is for peace and that it is political propaganda if it is against acid rain. I think that has very serious consequences.

The crucial question is, how many films were released in this country that did not have the label "political propaganda"? It is easy to hide behind what I call an overly broad congressional standard, which I think should be revised. but someone is applying discretion.

I come back first to the specific question: Was anyone in the Department of State ever consulted on this and what was their response if they were? Second, how many films went by without this standard being applied?

Mr. ABRAMS. I cannot answer who was consulted. It is conceivable, for example, that the Canada desk was consulted. I do not know the answer to that.

Not every foreign film, under the act, needs to be, as you noted. For example, tourist films, which probably form the tremendous majority of films made by governments, government tourist boards, need not be so labeled. But looking at the films that have been labeled in accordance with the act, there are a number from Israel relating to public policy issues.

Let me just give a couple of titles: "The Plight of the Soviet Jewry" was one, "A Conversation With Golda Meir" was another one. Those were not put on the list because the Justice Department was opposed to peace. It was put on because they discussed public policy issues. That is really the dividing line.

Now, of course there is no automatic way of doing this. Somebody has to sign his name to a piece of paper. But I make the point again that this was done by the career level, by people who have been enforcing the law for years and years. It was not a political decision by this administration.

Mr. LEACH. I appreciate that, and I do think the Congress has an obligation to look at this very seriously. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. YATRON. Thank you, Mr. Leach.

The gentleman from New York, Mr. Weiss.

Mr. WEISS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

There has been generally a positive reaction to the tenor and the accuracy of the reports this year compared to previous country reports. I think that you ought to feel satisfied that they have been acknowledged and recognized.

That does not mean that there is wholehearted approval. There are some criticisms that we brought to your attention that there is still a tendency to be less than critical or fully critical of the socalled friendly nations. I wonder if you have taken note of that criticism and what your reaction to it would be?

Mr. ABRAMS. We have. Probably the lengthiest critique is the one that three human rights groups did, Americas Watch, Helsinki Watch, and the Lawyers Committee, which we have read carefully and distributed within the Bureau. I do not accept their general view that the document has a lot of politics in it.

It is strange, because for example they say that they are very keen on the South Africa report, which they consider to be very straightforward and forceful. There are a number of other reports that they criticize, which they say are political. Yet South Africa is a country with which this administration has and wishes to have friendly relations.

So if we are looking at countries where we would presumably take a dive. If we were taking dives, we might say South Africa is one of them. Yet they acknowledge it isn't. So they are not making the argument that generally speaking-or perhaps I should say they are not making the argument that in every case we favor friendly countries over unfriendly countries.

We do not-we attempt not to do that.

Mr. WEISS. They spell out countries-Argentina, Pakistan, the Philippines, Turkey, Yugoslavia-those countries where the criticism has been in their judgment equivocal, I guess we are trying to


Mr. ABRAMS. We try not to. I do not think we do. It is a very difficult thing. Well, of course it cannot be proven. One of the difficulties we had in putting the volume together, as we said in the introduction, was how do you make the judgment when you are at the final stages? One group of people have done the Latin American reports, another group of people have done the Near East and Asian reports. How do you compare Guatemala and the Philippines? We are not accustomed to making that kind of comparison, but we try, because we know these countries will be targets of special attention, not to show political bias in the reports.

I think there are disagreements, and always will be, on is this an improvement or is that not an improvement? But we attempt to avoid allowing politics to determine the portraits they contain.

Mr. WEISS. Specifically, apparently somewhere along the line you have information, which you print in the report, that in Argentina, there have been 1,450 cases of disappeared persons where information has been given to the relatives and the families. The monitoring groups have no backup for that and you do not seem to provide any of it.

Where did you get that information? There was certainly nothing public that was made known by the Argentine Government.

Mr. ABRAMS. This has been something that has happened slowly over the years. That is, there was not a day when the government announced, we are going to all of a sudden turn over files on hundreds of cases. Over the years there have been a number of cases where inquiries were made and the Government actually responded.

In recent, oh, I would say the last year especially, this has tended to happen in court cases. That is, some of the families have gone to court and the court has instructed the military to respond, what happened to this person, and there have been responses. It has happened in-I think your number about right, 1,450-—

Mr. WEISS. How did you get those numbers? Did you total up reports that you have seen in the newspapers, in the government review? How did you arrive at that 1,450 figure?

Mr. ABRAMS. I cannot answer that. It came through the Embassy.

Mr. WEISS. Then finally, in regard to the report on Malaysia, you read that report and the sense you get is that really, all is well with the world, everything seems to go according to law, the opposition is left alone, and there has been only one execution, it says, since the constitutionality of the emergency laws have been upheld and so on.

The fact is that in 1982 alone there was a total of 23 executions. No mention of that in the report at all. Since 1980 there have only been 151 executions. I just wonder why the omission of that here, why the slanting of that report to make the situation seem much better than the actuality is?

Mr. ABRAMS. Just to update the facts, there were six executions in January 1983 under the Internal Security Act.

Mr. WEISS. Yes.

Mr. ABRAMS. I would distinguish-and I do not recall the exact case in Malaysia, but I do not believe that all of those were executions under the Internal Security Act. A death by execution is not a human rights abuse. That is, we do not take the position if in the United Kingdom, to take a country, if someone is executed after a trial and conviction, that is not a human rights abuse in our judgment.

So the question is not the number of executions, but the basis. Mr. WEISS. That is what I am asking about. The understanding I have is that under the emergency regulations under the Internal Security Act there have been 23 executions in 1982.

Mr. ABRAMS. There were not 23 executions under the Internal Security Act in 1982. There was one in December. In the rest of 1982 prior to December there were none. So they would have come under some other statute.

The question would be, and I do not know off the top of my head, what kind of due process we are talking about.

Mr. WEISS. That is right. Do you believe that in fact the due process provisions are appropriate when again the basic information we have is that it is almost impossible in the kind of cases that are under the ISA for a defendant to really provide any kind of reasonable defense?

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