Selected postings from east-timor (reg.easttimor)

Subject: USGov: Questions for the record on Leahy law, Indonesia and h rights accountability

Questions for the Record Submitted to Assistant Secretary - Designate Michael Posner by Senator Russell Feingold (#1)

Senate Foreign Relations Committee

July 28, 2009


U.S. support for local security forces has an important role to play in combating terrorism and preventing instability, but we need to address the long-term risks of providing military and financial assistance to forces known to be engaged in political repression or gross violations of human rights. If confirmed, how will you work to ensure these risks are seriously considered, and that the restrictions imposed by the Leahy Law and Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act are consistently followed and treated as binding law? If confirmed, how will you seek to improve vetting of foreign military units before they receive U.S. security assistance?


Implementation of relevant laws in this area, such as the Leahy laws, is a significant step in promoting human rights and democracy. U.S. assistance provided to foreign security forces should not support individual units that have engaged in gross violations of human rights; and the U.S. should seek ways to leverage its assistance to encourage host governments to prevent such violations and to hold persons accused of such violations accountable for their actions.

The Leahy laws have been an important tool in helping to ensure that U.S. taxpayers are not underwriting atrocities. But I also believe that it can be used even more effectively. The law does not simply prohibit aid from going to units credibly alleged to have committed gross human rights violations. The law has also directed the USG to help end impunity by encouraging governments that receive our aid in bringing the perpetrators of those violations to justice.

Concerning section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA), I believe that there is a bipartisan recognition that a country that engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights ultimately undermines the respect for the rule of law and international norms that are at the heart of both human rights and security. Stability, trade, efforts to combat terrorism, and drug trafficking and other important policy goals of the U.S. are all undermined by consistent violations of human rights. If confirmed, I will seek to strengthen DRL’s coordination with Department of State embassies, regional bureaus, PM, and INL to ensure that human rights provisions in the FAA, such as the Leahy provision and section 502B, are consistently implemented. My goal is to ensure that Department policy and procedure are reviewed and refined. To that end I will be looking closely at Leahy law implementation and other forms of security assistance cooperation such as munitions exports.

Consistent effective vetting of individual security force units is a vital aspect of successfully implementing U.S. policy. And to do this properly requires adequate resources. I am therefore very pleased that the Congress recognized the need for resources to fund vetting and other monitoring activities. The Department of State is currently funding development of a new worldwide human rights vetting database called International Vetting Security Tracking (INVEST). This new database will be used to conduct and coordinate Leahy vetting worldwide, help the Department to maintain records of all vetting, and help reduce the administrative personnel burden of Leahy vetting by negating the need to communicate via telegram. In addition to making Leahy vetting less burdensome, this database will centralize records of Department of State human rights vetting activity. Many analyses both within and from outside the government have documented the immense challenges in having consistent, effective, and fully implemented vetting. If confirmed, I will work closely with my colleagues in other bureaus and other departments to ensure there is effective and consistent monitoring that produces timely and accurate information.

Questions for the Record Submitted to Assistant Secretary ­ Designate Michael Posner by Senator Russell D. Feingold (#5)

Senate Foreign Relations Committee

July 28, 2009


One important aspect of addressing human rights abuses is holding those responsible for such abuses accountable. Over the past decade, Indonesia has made progress on human rights issues, and the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Indonesia has strengthened significantly. However, there remains a climate of impunity for those involved in human rights abuses in East Timor and elsewhere, as was particularly apparent during the recent presidential election, when relatively little attention was given to the historical involvement of vice-presidential candidates Prabowo and Wiranto in the Indonesian military and Kopassus special forces unit at the height of human rights abuses. If confirmed, how will you raise the issue of accountability for previous human rights abuses, particularly in bilateral relationships where progress is being made and pressure for good bilateral relations is strong? If you are confirmed, will you recommend the administration continue to restrict FMF or IMET funds for the Kopassus Special Forces unit in Indonesia?


It is important to address the past, and to create effective accountability mechanisms, as a key to moving forward. I share your concerns that Indonesia has not taken adequate measures to hold accountable those who perpetrated human rights abuses in the past, particularly with regard to those named by the UN for abuses in Timor-Leste in 1999, but also for those credibly accused of human rights abuses in Papua and Aceh. If confirmed, I will press for progress on bringing the accused to account.

DRL plays a key role in ensuring compliance with the Leahy laws which apply to State assistance and DOD training of foreign security forces units such as the Indonesian Special Forces Kopassus. I will work to ensure that these provisions are implemented with respect to U.S. assistance for Indonesia.

If confirmed, I will raise these concerns with my Indonesian counterparts, and urge other senior U.S. officials to do so as well. I look forward to working with you to advance human rights and democracy in Indonesia.

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