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benefit needy people. The administration based the change in its voting
violation of human rights is consistent.
strike the word "consistent" from the law.
Mr. Chairman, what I have just outlined is testimony to what we have seen from the Reagan administration for the last two years: they have consciously neglected or reversed the application of the general human rights laws (sections 502B, 116 and 701) with regard to Latin America. In the second portion of my statement I turn to country-specific legislation.
The Reagan administration sought in 1981 to repeal country-specific language prohibiting security assistance and arms sales to Chile and Argentina. Congress instead revised the legislation to allow U.S. arms to flow only after the President certifies that certain specific improvements in human rights exist. In the case of Chile, the President must certify that the government is making significant progress in respect for human rights and that it is cooperating to bring to justice those indicted in connection with the murder in Washington of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt. The human rights reports released in February assert that the human rights situation in Chile has improved. Sectors within the administration would like to use this as the basis for
Recently, the growing
certifying Chile, despite the government's total lack of cooperation in the
In the case of Argentina, last March an administration spokesman assured another Subcommittee that the administration has determined that the government of Argentina has met the conditions stipulated and merits certification and that the question is only a matter of timing. According to the law, in certifying human rights improvement, the President must consider efforts by the government of Argentina to account for the thousands of disappeared and the release of prisoners held under executive authority. Our office at this time is against certification in the near future because nearly 200 people are still held without charges in Argentina.
Furthermore, the official posi
tion of the Argentine military is against accounting for the disappeared; instead they have issued a report about the "excesses of the dirty war, justifying the repression of the 1970s and claiming that those disappeared who are not hiding or in exile should be considered "administratively dead." The report goes on to say that only history should judge the guilt or innocence of those involved in the repression and that the armed forces would do it all again if necessary. More recently, the detention, torture, assassination and harassment of members of the Peronist party attests to the fact that the repressive apparatus is still in place.
The preponderance of the evidence suggests that the Reagan administration
Let it always be clear that we have no dreams of empire, that
still willing to stand by those who are persecuted or alone....
I sincerely believe that President Reagan has forgotten the pledge he made that evening to the American people and to the people of the world. The spirit of the human rights statutes are blithely ignored. Without a vigorous commitment to human rights and a healthy respect for the legislation embodying this trust, the United States abandons its leadership in the world as the defender of individual freedom. Instead of projecting a vision that testifies to the finest principles of this nation, this administration transmits an awesome indifference to violations occurring in countries considered "friendly." Recognizing that there is little compliance with the general laws, the Congress stipulated specific conditions for specific countries. Even when the stipulations are weakened, little compliance occurs. I want to encourage this Subcommittee to continue its important efforts to pursue these human rights issues, and in so doing safeguard the legitimate role of Congress in helping to shape U.S. foreign policy.
Allow me to make a few brief recommendations for consideration by this Subcommittee. The first regards definitions. (a) Clear standards must be developed defining the "consistent pattern" of "gross violations" of "internationally recognized human rights." (b) An operating definition of "improvement" must be developed. At this point, the administration interprets minor changes in behavior as "improvements" that merit reward. (c) The administration has rejected the notion that there are socio-economic rights. The Human Rights Country Reports now describe "conditions" instead of rights. International standards guided by the U.S. Congress when it wrote these human
rights statutes. It is beyond any single country's authority to reject standards internationally articulated and agreed upon. (d) The exceptions to the application of sections 502B (extraordinary circumstances) and 116 (loans which directly benefit needy people) should not be stretched beyond recognition to fit any circumstance. (e) In line with the deletion of the word " consistent" from the Banking Committee's definition of human rights violations, the same word should be deleted from all legislation which restricts U.S. aid to human rights violators. Through close monitoring of the admini
stration's behavior, through dialogue with its officials and perhaps through public hearings, this Subcommittee can play a key role in establishing operative
definitions in these areas.
Another suggestion is actually hidden in the Foreign Assistance Act as a sense of Congress: namely that the Inter-Agency Committee commonly referred to as the "Christopher Committee" under the Carter administration, should be (a) retained as a high-level interagency review committee, and (b) its mandate should be expanded to cover security assistance as well as economic assistance.
At this point a low-level working group meets occasionally
to review some MDB loans.
A third suggestion is less specific but greatly needed: the human rights legislation needs to be reviewed and possibly amended so that countries with good human rights records are rewarded. A change of this kind would have a very beneficial side-effect: U.S. bureaucrats responsible for applying the law relish opportunities to approve projects and increase programs. As the human rights legislation reads now, it provides only for the termination of programs to governments that violate rights.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, a larger concern is the increased use of security assistance to accomplish foreign policy objectives and the corresponding decrease in economic assistance. Overall growth in security assistance to Latin America does not build real peace and stability. It bears repeating that only when the underlying economic and political needs are met can true peace and stability be achieved.
Mr. Chairman, this Subcommittee is confronted by an enormous task: to insist on the implementation of a human rights policy consonant with the statutes enacted by the Congress and approved by the President. We are grateful for your diligent attention to these concerns. We appreciate your spirited defense of human rights around the world. We pledge our enthusiastic
support for your continued efforts in behalf of this most worthy goal.
Mr. YATRON. Thank you, Reverend Eldridge.
STATEMENT OF PENN KEMBLE, MEMBER OF THE EXECUTIVE
COMMITTEE, INSTITUTE ON RELIGION AND DEMOCRACY Mr. KEMBLE. My name is Penn Kemble. I am a member of the board of directors of the Institute on Religion and Democracy.
Mr. Chairman, we are very honored to be able to participate in this hearing. Let me be impromptu and very brief, even briefer than the original summary I had prepared.
Our organization welcomes the unprecedented attention that this year's human rights report gives to freedom of religious expression. I think that it is in large part because of this subcommittee that concern for freedom of religious expression has become a part of our regular human rights reporting process and the concern of the international agencies of the U.S. Government. By simply drawing attention to this problem, our Government will improve the condition of thousands who are seeking authentic religious expression around the world. Freedom of religion we believe is one of the cornerstones of democracy.
There is some tendency these days among sophisticated persons to regard strongly held religious conviction as something of a threat to tolerance and the democratic way. Our own history demonstrates that freedom of religion is in fact one of the bedrock freedoms upon which democracy rests.
We therefore are pleased that in its report the administration discusses Project Democracy, the proposed program of the U.S. Government to strengthen democracy around the world. It is clear to us that where force rather than free decide conflicts human rights are frequently violated and are always in danger.
My written testimony deals principally with a distinction raised earlier: that between authoritarianism and totalitarianism. We believe that that distinction is a fundamental one: Both for religious organizations and for successfully carrying out a democratic foreign policy on the part of the United States. Let me very briefly summarize our concerns.
A study of the issues of religious freedom reveals just how profound the distinction is between authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. Traditional despotisms frequently do engage in religious repression. We have seen this in countries such as the Philippines, in Iran, where the Baha'is are being crushed, or in El Salvador, where Archbishop Romero and U.S. religious workers have been killed. These all are instances of religious repression which have still not been corrected, or have the perpetrators been brought to justice.
But the kind of repression of religion which occurs in these traditional despotisms is something quite different from the subversion of religious institutions which occurs with increasing regularity in the totalitarian world.
In the Soviet Union, for example, the State Council on Religion supervises many of the activities of the Russian Orthodox Church. This is made clear in a report which was published first in Paris and more recently in this country by an excellent organization, the