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Mr. YATRON. Go right ahead.
Mr. SOLOMON. Well, in listening to my colleague from Pennsylvania, he said there has been a great deal of criticism. I think we should point out there has also been a great deal of praise for the policies of this administration as it deals with human rights violations. Sometimes when you are not antagonistic toward other countries and you are friendly toward them, you get a lot more than you do when you stand up with a lot of rhetoric, which is perhaps what we might have had in the past. I think we've pointed out one example, in South Korea, where that worked. And it's worked time and time and time again.
And that is what we call constructive engagement. That's why in South Africa constructive engagement is working today and there is widespread recognition around the United States that constructive engagement is working. So I just wanted to get that point
Mr. KOSTMAYER. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. SOLOMON. I'd be glad to yield to my colleague.
Mr. KOSTMAYER. Well, I think the gentleman from New York has made what may very well be a valid point and that is there is, there are different approaches here. There is the quieter more subtle approach which may be more persuasive and which does not embarrass or humiliate governments and some times end up compelling them to be even worse than they were to begin with.
Then there's the other approach, the approach where you try to demonstrate as much attention on the problems as you can; speak out in international forums. I think both have their place. Do either of you feel strongly that one is better than the other necessarily? That they are both applicable depending on the country and the time?
Mr. HEALEY. No. And we're not interested in that comparison. What we are interested in is that this Government that is in power do all it can within its power. What we see is that the United States operates differently with friend and foe. What we'd like them to do is to remove that barrier in this dialog and look at the world simply in terms of those who are torturing.
Whether you are left or right; whether you are friend or foe; to remove that. What we want to do and ask of you is that when someone is hurt anywhere in the world, no matter what government they belong to, that in fact our voice is raised.
Mr. SOLOMON. I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. YATRON. Thank you. I thank the gentleman. Generally speaking, do you think that our embassies assign enough responsibility to their officers with respect to investigating reports of torture or other abuses? We have as an example, economic officers, political officers, do you feel that perhaps we should have somebody assigned, to deal solely with human rights? Would you care to comment?
Mr. HEALEY. Well, certainly, Mr. Chairman, anything that is done in that vein, we would cheer and applaud. The data gathering by the State Department is terribly important to you. You should see that it is well done; that it balances with other human rights reporting groups around the world; and to see where it goes wrong. And of course, any pressure that you can put on those ambassadors
and their staffs to activiate them in such a way that they become the bearers of that kind of message to you, I think, is imperative to have authority and power in the world.
I saw the Assistant Secretary Crocker about Guinea and before Turi died. We were registering the number who disappeared and the amount of torture in that country, and then after he died, I wrote a note to the Assistant Secretary said, you know, I thank you for the time I spent with you but I'm sorry I didn't take my message harder to you because in fact the data after he died is worse. I wish I'd of done more and I sure wish you had done more.
So anything you can do in that sense, Mr. Chairman, to highlight that, to highlight it in the reporting to Congress, and then once that data comes in something is done vis a vis the talks that go around, that is terribly important to the human condition.
Mr. YATRON. Thank you. The ranking minority member, Mr. Leach.
Mr. LEACH. I apologize for missing your earlier presentation. We had a form of water torture on the House floor in terms of some personnel issues.
First, let me commend you for your fine study. It really is good, as is your statement today which many of us are very impressed with.
Second, let me ask, as we look at countries that have had difficulties and where situations seem to have gotten worse, can you cite some countries where things have gotten better? And, in getting better, can you isolate reasons why they got better, and might there be something that governments can learn from this?
Mr. Cox. Absolutely. I think that's a very important point. We in our report, "Torture in the Eighties," in fact, cite two examples in detail, and I would certainly commend those examples to the attention of this body. The first is in Northern Ireland where there was a very serious problem of torture in the early 1970's. Which continued actually until the mid-1970's. And some very simple steps that were brought about because of international public pressure have resulted in a very severe drop in the number of allegations of torture.
One of those steps was simply making sure that there were peep holes so the interrogation that went on in the cells could be observed by people other than the interrogator. Again, this relates to the question of incommunicado detention. They eventually became closed circuit television, but the point is that once there was access to the torture or the cells where the torture was taking place, it became impossible for interrogators to carry it on in the same way and it began to end.
A more relevant example perhaps, because it relates more to the large number of cases that we have in our report, is Brazil. And here, I think there is a great deal to be learned about the connection, which you will be hearing about later on in this testimony, between the operation of domestic groups working in Brazil and the support that was given to them by international public opinion and by actions by the U.S. Government.
And there is a situation where, because of public outcry, because of domestic pressure, we have seen a situation where torture was extremely widespread in the late 1960's and the early 1970's, re
duced to a situation where now, in the urban areas, there is very little if any torture. In the rural areas, however, there are still allegations of torture.
But the point is that all along the way the domestic groups knew that they had the support of groups abroad; including the U.S. Government, made very clear by steps it took, that it would not countenance torture in Brazil and that gave Brazilians the courage and strength they needed to carry on. There aren't many examples unfortunately, but each of those examples offers us real hope that this time around, in this campaign, we can duplicate what happened in Brazil and in Northern Ireland.
Mr. LEACH. Along on this line, many countries in the world are wracked by internal division where there are two and sometimes even three sides to conflicts. Would Amnesty be willing to make a judgment that when one side employs torture it's likely to produce a countertorture, or that terror by one side is likely to produce counterterror? If so, are there ways of deescalating that? And are there models of deescalation?
Mr. Cox. Well, it's certainly true that once torture's introduced by either side in a civil conflict, the situation hardens and deteriorates. I mean it's very difficult to engage in a little torture since torture is outside of the law, it's clearly illegal for a government to engage in torture on even a limited scale, for example say it believes that it can fight guerrillas or fight terrorism by using a little bit of torture.
The government must immediately set up structures that are in fact outside the law and outside the judiciary. Once those structures begin to operate, the interrogators who are using these methods, will find other methods much slower, much less effective, harder to get confessions, much easier to break peoples' will using torture and it will spread. That in fact, is what began to happen in Brazil.
It's also what happened in Uruguay. I'm not sure this is answering your question exactly, but it's clear, once you introduce torture, you are in effect doing more than simply inflicting pain on individuals, you are in fact destroying any democratic fibre in a society.
Mr. LEACH. Well, let me just give an example. Are you arguing, in the Brazilian case, that by limiting torture on one side, it also limited it on the other?
Mr. Cox. I think it helped make possible a reconciliation, a process that is unfortunately not finished in Brazil, that is still going on, but it made possible an opening toward democracy, yes.
I think when people are being tortured, or when people have been tortured, I think we've seen this in a number of cases other than Latin America-in the Middle East, for example-they are unlikely to forgive or to forget, they are unlikely to sit down with the very people who have been responsible for torturing them, and you have situations like Iran or other situations we could mention, where in fact there is to us, many Americans, an outpouring of tremendous, incomprehensible anger, I think that's one of the legacies of torture.
And if you can get governments to take steps to reduce that, then you open the possibility of resolving conflicts other than by violent means.
Mr. LEACH. Let me turn for a minute to U.S. responsibility in this. One of the things about which Congress from time to time makes determinations is our role in potential training of police forces. Obviously there can be some positive implications to that. There can also be some negative spinoffs, if for example, such training identifies us a little too closely with a government particularly if the government is less than perfect.
Would you have any recommendations in terms of police training, first, whether we should proceed with it despite the down side; or second, if we do proceed with, it if it's better to have that training occur under multilateral auspices, like the U.N. or OAS, even if perhaps the same FBI or U.S. people might be involved or Canadians or Mexicans or whomever. Is that something that Amnesty has ever addressed?
Mr. Cox. Well, I'm not sure we have the expertise to go into very much of the specifics; we have addressed and in our recommendations we do address in fact the question of training because it's obviously a very important factor. And whether it should be done bilaterally or multilaterally, what's clear to us is that human rights and humanitarian principles have to be a very important part of that training.
And we would like to see the role of the Congress in monitoring such training, increase with a view to guaranteeing that adequate attention is being paid to human rights it is, I think, an opportunity to get at the source, rather than to wait until people we have trained begin to torture people and then get the allegations. It is a very important opportunity; I don't think we have the expertise to go into the specifics on exactly what the curriculae should be, but we certainly would strongly recommend that Congress monitor the training that is going on for foreign personnel and police personnel, and make sure that there is a large component of human rights education.
Mr. LEACH. Thank you very much.
Mr. YATRON. Thank you, Mr. Leach. Would you care to comment on that?
Mr. HEALEY. Could I comment on that, Mr. Yatron?
Mr. YATRON. Sure, Mr. Healey. Absolutely.
Mr. HEALEY. Thank you. I'd like to comment on Mr. Leach's point. It was said that in World War II that the Jewish pessimists were in London and now in our country the pessimistic refugees are here and it should be looked at very carefully before they are returned to their country, because they face torture when they go back.
We, at one time in the last 3 years, were saying that the situation in Ethiopia was bad because of the Communists and at the same time, our naturalization service was sending people back to Ethiopia, and they surely faced the torture.
The second point is regarding improvement, when human rights groups talk about improvement we do it with great hesitation because what is improvement. If 50 people are tortured in 1 week somewhere and it drops to 20, is that an improvement? We worry because of the sliding scale; we accept 5 percent unemployment in the country and it's sliding up to 10 or to 9. Maybe we're beginning to do that in our foreign policy.
We accept a certain amount of torture and that's what worries us in our foreign policy because there's a certain toleration level that's built into the system and we want to point that out, that if one person is tortured, that must stop. It need not have volume; God help us, if it has volume, if but if it does not have volume, it's one person, we would like our Congress to raise its voice.
Mr. YATRON. Thank you very much, Mr. Healey and Mr. Cox. I don't believe there are any more questions at this time. We want to thank you very very much for being here and giving us the benefit of your views.
The next panel witnesses will include country specialists and victims of torture. This panel includes Prof. Bob Goldman, acting dean of American University Law School; Alejandro Artucio, a Uruguayan victim of torture; Ms. Jeri Laber, executive director of Helsinki Watch; Mr. Buz, a Turkish victim of torture; Prof. Thomas Gouttierre, Center for Afganistan Studies, University of Nebraska at Omaha; and Mr. Mohammed Hanif Sadig, on behalf of Mr. Ghulam, an Afghani victim of torture.
Would you all please come to the witness table. And I would appreciate it very much if you would summarize your statements. Your entire prepared statements will be included in the record.
Professor Goldman, will you please proceed.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT K. GOLDMAN, ACTING DEPUTY DEAN AND PROFESSOR, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL, DIRECTOR OR TRUSTEE OF AMERICAS WATCH, THE COUNCIL ON HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS, THE INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW GROUP, THE INTERNATIONAL SECRETARIAT OF JURISTS FOR AMNESTY IN URUGUAY, AND THE WASHINGTON OFFICE ON LATIN AMERICA
Mr. GOLDMAN. Thank you Mr. Chairman. My testimony today will briefly focus on the widespread practice of torture in Uruguay and in general what the U.S. Congress might do to combat this illicit phenomenon.
For the past 10 years, Uruguay has had one of the highest ratios of prisoners to population in the world. From around 10,000 in 1975 to 800 at the present time.1 Amnesty International and other credible groups estimated in 1979, that since 1973, 1 in every 500 Uruguayans has been imprisoned for political reasons and 1 in every 50 has been detained for interrogation. Virtually all of these have been subjected to some form of torture.
The latter ratio perhaps has risen as a result of a series of mass arrests during the past 3 years. The true horror of these statistics becomes all the more clear when one realizes that we are talking about a country of less than 3 million people with close to a zero population growth during the past two decades, and where about 66 percent of the population lives in one city, Montevideo.
Consequently, few, if any families in this tiny country have escaped having a member either imprisoned, detained, or tortured. By the late 1960's, Uruguay began displaying what Amnesty International and others have called the preconditions of torture.
It was reliably reported at that time that the police routinely tortured suspected Tupamaros to extract information. During the
1 Mr. Goldman informed the subcommittee subsequent to the hearing that the figures should read "10,000 in 1974."