« ÎnapoiContinuă »
ine three countries and three types of problems that we find in the reports.
Some of the reports minimize human rights abuses by emphasizing historical problems. The report on Pakistan, for example, suggests that present abuses are an outgrowth of Pakistan's historical, and I am quoting, "search for its national identity." The report goes on to note that Pakistan has been governed by martial law or other nonelected regimes for more than half of its 35 years.
While emphasizing this historical instability, the report also minimizes both the breakdown of the rule of law in Pakistan in the last 5 years and the institutionalization of one-man rule by President Zia-ul-Haq. While the report does accurately describe the denial of some human rights protection in that country, it does so in a piecemeal fashion, apparently seeking to avoid the inescapable conclusion that President Zia is the main force behind these disturbing actions.
Another example of this type of reporting is found in the State Department's discussion of the position of women in Pakistan. The report describes one womens group's opposition to a proposed Federal law of evidence, which they claimed would impose on women and men "equal obligations without affording women equal rights,' and I am quoting from the report. In fact, the report does not indicate, as it should, that the proposed rule of evidence accords women's testimony one-half the weight of men's.
The report on the Philippines, is illustrative of another problem-the administration's unwillingness, or apparent unwillingness to attribute responsibility for human rights abuses to countries that are friendly to the United States. In describing the ongoing pattern of violence in the Philippines, the State Department notes that it is difficult to assess responsibility for extrajudicial executions. It asserts that "many of the killings are the result of numerous clashes between armed rebels and government forces."
By contrast, to cite one other source, Amnesty International has concluded that:
In a high proportion of cases, killings occurred after interrogation and torture and after the victim had been taken to a place of detention, indicating that death occurred after the victim had been taken into some form of custody.
A third type of problem is illustrated by the report on Zaire, which includes a number of references to problems, but dismisses them as symptoms of poverty or inefficiency. As a result, the report describes prison conditions as poor but notes that President Mobutu took "personal steps to facilitate the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross," while acknowledging that lowlevel officials "continue to respond slowly to instructions from the ministerial level to cooperate.
According to the reports, an effort to cooperate with international human rights organizations was taken "at the highest level of Government," but again according to the report, "not all local or low-level officials have been sufficiently educated about the rights of prisoners." I cite several more examples in my testimony.
By and large, we find the report this year to be a well documented and thorough presentation, but we think that these types of inaccuracies or misplaced emphases need to be monitored by this
subcommittee. We believe that this subcommittee in particular can play a useful role in emphasizing to the State Department that successful completion of the reporting process cannot be accomplished unless it receives the strong support of State Department officials in Washington. In its oversight role, this subcommittee should emphasize to the executive branch your concerns that this subject remains higher priority in the State Department.
Our general satisfaction with the development of the reporting process also is tempered by an awareness that the Reagan administration shows little disposition to shape its policy to match its own factfinding. The report on Haiti is one good illustration.
While the State Department candidly acknowledges that civil and political rights are severely restricted in Haiti, that public criticism of the Government is generally not permitted, that beatings of prisoners occur on a regular basis, that the judicial system is highly politicized, that habeas corpus exists mainly in principle, that there has been a severe curtailment of freedom of assembly and association, and serious restrictions on freedom of the press and speech, the administration's policy simply does not reflect recognition of or an effective response to those problems.
One recent manifestation of the human rights crisis in Haiti was the arrest last month of five people, including members of the now virtually defunct Christian Democratic Party and perhaps the most important civil rights lawyer in Haiti. Six weeks after their arrest, these people have still not been formally charged and their fate remains unclear.
Troubling questions concerning the impact of the reports are also raised by the administration's current policy toward South Africa. The State Department's lengthy, informative, and forceful report accurately portrays the South African Government's severe abuses of human rights. And the administration's recent statement criticizing the system of apartheid serves as a useful followup to the report, yet neither statement can be squared with the administration's policy of "constructive engagement" which continues to be viewed by the South African Government as a sign of American tolerance of the status quo.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, this subcommittee needs to turn its attention to each of these issues. In the next year the subcommittee can and should play a useful role in evaluating and helping to reshape U.S. human rights policy. While I believe that it is useful to hold hearings evaluating the reports that we are considering here today, in the future I suggest that there is also a need for oversight hearings, as Mr. Carliner has suggested, on human rights situations in specific countries and a more thorough analysis of the policy options that are now available to the United States. Thank you very much.
[Mr. Posner's prepared statement follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF MICHAEL H. POSNER, LAWYERS COMMITTEE FOR INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS
AN EVALUATION OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT'S COUNTRY REPORTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES FOR 1982
My name is Michael Posner. I am the Executive
Director of the Lawyers Committee for International
The Lawyers Committee is a
public-interest law center based in New York that
A principal function of the Lawyers Committee is
and 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended. In carrying out this monitoring function the Lawyers Committee has carefully followed the development of the annual State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices which are the subject of today's hearing.
For the last four years the Lawyers Committee has prepared critiques of the State Department Reports. In each, of the last two years the Americas Watch and the U.S. Helsinki Watch Committee have joined in this effort. I submit a copy of our 1982 Critique for the record.
In my testimony today I will briefly discuss the value of the Country Reports, and then summarize several of the findings and recommendations contained in our Critique. We see the Country Reports as an essential element
in the development of an effective foreign policy that adequately reflects human rights considerations.
of an effective policy in human rights or in any other area of foreign relations must begin with accurate and objective information.
Reliable information concerning human rights in a particular country can best be developed by people working in that country. For this reason, the Lawyers Committee believes that the present method of utilizing embassy staff personnel to prepare country reports is essentially sound. Embassy
staff personnel have been able to draw upon the vast intelligence gathering capacities of the United States Government to gather specific data on human rights conditions. By requiring reports from more than 150 embassies, Congress has given these U.S. diplomats a mandate to gather information on human rights that might otherwise be ignored or regarded as too sensitive to investigate.
We believe that this approach not only produces information vital to effective decision-making by Congress, but also serves an important educative function within the Foreign service. By investigating the human rights situations in the countries where they serve, embassy personnel become sensitized to conditions that have a substantial impact on the U.S. Government's ability to conduct successful foreign relations.
CRITIQUE OF THE 1982 REPORT
The critiques we prepared earlier this year examine the State Department's 1982 Reports on 22 countries chosen for their ideological and geographical diversity.
The critiques conclude that many of the 1982 State Department Reports are well-documented, detailed and for the most part objective. Yet in several important instances, objective analysis appears to be subverted to efforts to further