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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2002 > March

Release of the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2001

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Remarks to the Press
Washington, DC
March 4, 2002

[listen audio of Secretary Powell][listen audio of Assistant Secretary Craner]

Secretary Powell presenting the State Departmentís Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2001

SECRETARY POWELL: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. It is my pleasure today to present the Departmentís Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2001, last year. These annual Reports are one of the most important instruments America has for championing respect for fundamental freedoms all over the globe. The congressionally mandated Reports are an expression of the commitment of the United States Government to advance internationally agreed upon human rights principles.

The attacks of September 11th, in which some 3,000 men, women and children from 80 countries died, reminded us all of our common humanity. Today, as America stands against terrorism with countries all around the world, we also reaffirm what our nation has stood for since its earliest days: for human rights, for democracy and for the rule of law.

The worldwide promotion of human rights is in keeping with America's most deeply held values. It is also strongly in our interests. Freedom fights terrorism, instability and conflict. Time and again, experience has shown that countries which demonstrate high degrees of respect for human rights also are the most secure and the most successful. Indeed, respect for human rights is essential to lasting peace and sustained economic growth, goals which Americans share with people all over the world.

President Bush, the Congress of the United States and the American people are united in the conviction that active support for human rights must be an integral part of American foreign policy. The United States will be a steadfast friend to men and women around the world who bravely seek to improve the observance of international human rights standards within their own countries and worldwide.

The Bush Administration is working in cooperation with governments, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental groups and individuals to help bring human rights performance into compliance with international norms. We are actively pursuing a broad human rights agenda at the international, regional and bilateral levels: the strengthening of civil society, the spread of accountable government, equal justice and legal reform, freedom of the press, religious liberty, tolerance, workers' rights, protections for children, and the human rights of women and minorities.

We will also fully explore the new opportunities that have been created by international cooperation against terrorism to establish, expand and deepen discussions with other governments on human rights issues.

The United States welcomes the help of any country or party that is genuinely prepared to work with us to eradicate terrorism. At the same time, we will not relax our commitment to advancing the cause of human rights and democracy. For a world in which men and women of every continent, culture and creed, of every race, religion and region, can exercise their fundamental freedoms is a world in which terrorism cannot thrive.

I am proud to say that for over a quarter of a century, the State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices have been a key source of information for policymakers, the press and the public, both here and abroad.

We have done our utmost to ensure the accuracy, objectivity and integrity of the Reports. The Reports speak for themselves. They also give a voice to the voiceless. They shed cleansing light on the darkest of abuses. And they provide a benchmark for improvement. In short, they are a force for freedom.

With that, I will hand the briefing over to Lorne Craner, the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, who will take your questions.

Thank you very much.

Lorne W. Craner, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I am very pleased to be here with all of you today to release the State Department's 26th Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. It is a special privilege to release the report with the Secretary of State, whom I have watched over the years work tirelessly in public, and now in private, to advance human rights around the world.

The country reports we're releasing today provide a snapshot of the human rights record in almost 190 countries, evaluated within a consistent set of internationally recognized human rights standards and norms. Virtually every aspect of human rights is covered, from transparency in government, to respect for the integrity of the person, to worker rights. The facts are simply and objectively presented for the reader to analyze.

Before I discuss the content of the Reports, I would like to thank all of those who have worked so diligently to produce them. This is a massive endeavor. The work entails thousands of hours in research and information gathering by US diplomats abroad and Department staff here in the United States. Overseas, this information gathering can be hazardous, and US Foreign Service Officers regularly go to great lengths, under trying and sometimes even dangerous conditions, to investigate abuses, monitor elections, and aid individuals at risk.

Additional sources for the report include domestic and international human rights groups, academics, jurists, international organizations, and domestic and international media. Within the Human Rights Bureau, I owe a special thanks to my deputies, to Bill Dilday, who heads the Office of Country Reports, and to his Deputy, Jeannette Dubrow, who ran the office during his unavoidable absence during part of last year. The staff of the Country Reports Office are a dedicated group of people committed to preserving and presenting the facts as accurately and objectively as possible.

Over the last few months, I have heard the worry that the war on terrorism will sideline America's interest in human rights. This is far from true. In fact, the protection of human rights is even more important now than ever. The US Government is deeply committed to the promotion of universal human rights and the development of pluralistic, accountable governments.

As the President said in his State of the Union Address, and as you just heard the Secretary say, the events of September 11th necessitate that the international war against terrorism be fought not only to protect our rights and freedoms, but also to promote them throughout the globe. To my mind, this is most evident in Afghanistan, which a year ago was ruled by one of the world's most repressive regimes.

Liberated from the Taliban, Afghans have come to cherish the lives, society and freedoms they have regained. Women have begun to assume key roles in the political and economic recovery of their country. Schools have reopened for young women, girls and boys. Afghans no longer live in fear of violating some unwritten, arbitrary law of behavior enforced at the whim of the Taliban. There is still much to be done to ensure public security and reconstruct the country, but no one can doubt that 2001 was the year when Afghans began to regain their freedoms.

We have mentioned a few examples of positive steps being taken around the world in the introduction to the Reports. The move towards democratic principles, such as transparent elections and accountable governments, continues. In 2001, we saw democratic political reforms taking root around the globe, from Peru, to Mexico, to Ghana, Senegal and Serbia.

Still, in our less than perfect world, there is much room for improvement. Some of the world's most repressive regimes, from Cuba to North Korea, have changed little over the past year. But elsewhere, some governments are beginning to understand the need for change to get their countries on a sound economic base, and to sustain a meaningful long-term relationship with the United States.

This cannot be achieved without the rule of law, accountability in government, and the development of civil society. These are some of the matters we are pursuing in expanding dialogues with a number of coalition partners in the war against terrorism. Our alliance has given us wider avenues of discourse with several countries where previously we had very limited exchanges.

The Reports were delivered to Congress earlier this morning. They will be posted to the State Department website and be immediately available after this briefing. We appreciate the discussion and debate generated by the Reports. We believe such discourse can only serve to advance the cause of universal human rights. And with that, I'll open up to your questions.

QUESTION: I have a couple of questions about US allies, which you do go to significant lengths to criticize when applicable. In Israel, for instance, could you explain why, unlike previous years, you put Israeli abuses against Palestinians in context of fighting the war against terrorism? It seemed more prevalent this year that you said that in the report than last year.

And then also, some of the allies that you've criticized in the report, such as Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, could you talk about how this translates into policy? I mean, we support them in financial and other ways, and how does that translate?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: On the first question, if you read last year's Report, there were about two lines about the situation in Israel as far as terrorism went. And I felt in a number of these Reports they could use more context, and that was one of them.

On the second question, how does it translate into policy? In a variety of ways. And that is why we try to be as accurate and objective in these Reports as possible so it can be a guide to policymakers. We use them in our diplomatic discussions with them, but we also use them in talking to our allies about the kind of programs we are undertaking in those countries.

So, for example, in a number of countries that we have become more closely aligned with since September 11th, our programs of assistance, democracy assistance, are already ramping up to be able to help civil society, the press and others in those countries to try and make them more democratic.

QUESTION: I'll follow that. Just give us a couple examples what you're doing in Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Egypt.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: I'll throw out a few examples. In Uzbekistan, we're undertaking a program to help a variety of civil society groups around the country come together to formulate future plans. In Kyrgyzstan, we talk about the press in Kyrgyzstan, and we're going to help fund an independent printing press there, an independent printing press to be able to facilitate the printing of newspapers. Those are just two examples that are coming out of my office.

QUESTION: What about Saudi Arabia?


QUESTION: Can I, in a similar vein, ask you just to back up what you said earlier where you said that with several countries you were expanding dialogues with countries that you'd had limited contact with before. Can you give examples of governments that you're having more contact with as a result of the war on terrorism?


QUESTION: Of governments that you're having expanded human rights dialogue with as a result of the war on --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: Sure. I would point to the Central Asian governments. For example, I went there in I believe it was January, and up until then our contacts had basically been limited to the Foreign Ministry. And just before I got there, and while I was there, they began to open up other parts of their government to speak with us -- the judicial branch, the Interior Ministry and others. Obviously we're looking to see results from this dialogue. Just being able to talk back and forth is not enough. But the fact that we have a wider array of people to try and work with on these issues is important.

QUESTION: Is that the key one, Uzbekistan?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: No, Kazakhstan I would say the same thing. I would say we've been able to do the same in Pakistan, had a wider variety of contacts there than we've had before.

QUESTION: A couple of years ago in Laos, a number of student leaders have been, you know, were jailed after they tried to put a demonstration together for political reform. Has the Department been able to track their situation? Do you know how they're doing? Have you evolved a view or an approach to their situation?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: No, we have -- I've spent a lot of time, as a matter of fact, with the new Ambassador to Afghanistan, and we just talked again --


ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: I'm sorry. Laos. To Laos. We just talked again about two weeks ago trying to formulate an approach that is going to not only address that issue, but take care of the wider problems in Laos, of which there are many.

QUESTION: Do you have any word on how those guys are doing, though, those five?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: I can get to you on that particular case.


QUESTION: I don't know if you have in mind Colombian situation human rights. I would like you to try to compare with another countries how did the Colombian situation on Human Rights Watch -- I mean, human rights.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: I do have Colombia very much in mind because I think it's the first country I visited twice on this job. The human rights situation there obviously remains poor. You are no doubt aware of the certification requirements we're under in terms of the military-paramilitary cooperation. There are also a number of abuses -- great abuses, I would say -- on the FARC-ELN-AUC side, beginning with kidnapping, beginning with deaths and torture, and working your way all the way through child labor.

So it's a situation where the country is democratic and holds democratic elections, but because of the war there are a lot of human rights problems ongoing in Colombia. And it's something we here are spending a great deal of time on, as you are no doubt aware, and have for the months we've been in power. But it's an issue of a country of great, great concern to us.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) about the links between army and paramilitary forces?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: I'll tell you, my opinion is that at the higher levels the army understands, the generals understand, that working with people like the AUC is not conducive to a good strategy of eliminating an insurgency. I still think that at the lower levels there are still probably links, and the Colombian army needs to take care of those.

QUESTION: Can I ask you to elaborate on your comments criticizing the Israeli security forces, and I'm wondering if this criticism should have any impact whatsoever in US support for the Israeli Government.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: The report goes through a number of issues, including the rules of engagement, and whether they're stuck to torture allegations. We also mention trafficking as an important issue in Israel, and this is something I think you've heard the Secretary and the President speak to, and I'll leave it to them as far as speaking about what is going on in Israel right now.

QUESTION: Your criticism of Israel is very tempered. You try to justify it by saying they sometimes use excessive force in contravention of their own rules, and you try to justify that this is because of the terrorist attacks, that two minuses make a plus. However, the targeted killing and assassination, which is an official adopted policy, is safe from criticism. Do you find this sort of policy is consistent with human rights -- the targeted killing?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: I don't know how far you've gotten in the report, but we do talk about targeted killings, number one. Number two, we mention rules of engagement because, in the case of Israel, unlike many countries that we deal with, Israel has a set of standards that it tries to stick to, and it has many self-correcting mechanisms that it tries to get at in terms of working through and figuring out these problems.

QUESTION: On Pakistan, I wonder if you could talk a little bit more about how you see the situation. It seems to be phrased that Pakistan has some problems, but Musharraf seems to be making some efforts. So is it a glass half full that you're talking about?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: Well, we rated it as poor, the situation there, which is not obviously our highest rating. There are a number of issues, beginning with the fact that, at the moment, the people have no right to change their national government. There are a number of issues with the police forces, about how aggressive there are. There is the issue of child labor, and they don't do very well at all on trafficking issues.

That said, there does seem to be a plan, and Mr. Musharraf appears to be sticking to it because of the -- demonstrated by the local elections this year, to work towards again having national elections so that people and choose their own government there.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) the US (inaudible) defending human rights policy when there is, on the one hand, growing strategic alliances with Central Asian states, and, on the other hand, poor human rights records?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: I think if we didn't talk to countries about this, then we'd have a tough time defending it. Let me just give you and say two things. I came here from the outside. I was with an NGO that did democracy building. I came here in June. So I had the opportunity to see things before and after September 11th, and I also came in from the outside.

I think, again, a lot of people feared that we were just going to drop this item from our agenda whenever we talked to foreign leaders. That's not the case. I will say that whereas it used to be the number one or two or three item, now it might be the number two, three or four item. Terrorism is the first thing discussed in a lot of countries, but it is certainly the case that we continue to walk through these issues with foreign leaders and to make sure that people understand that they are very, very important to us.

I think a lot of people feared a reversion to the 1950s to '70s period, when I think there was less regard for human rights in foreign policy because we had this Cold War, which was a monumental issue. And I think a lot of the policymakers today lived through that, and they saw that that didn't always work out right, that in a number of countries around the world, we ended up worse off because of it. And I think for that, and a variety of other reasons, they are determined not to repeat that mistake.

QUESTION: When you talk to other governments about their human rights problems, since post-September 11th, have they raised issues with the United States in terms of some of the measures that this government has taken that have been criticized by human rights groups -- detentions of immigrants and these sorts of things, as if to sort of say diminishing your message?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: They haven't tried that yet.

QUESTION: They haven't tried that yet? Could you answer how you think the United States would do on the State Department's Human Rights Report?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: Well, we don't try and rate ourselves. That wouldn't be fair.

QUESTION: I'd like to ask you about Slovakia and the problems with minorities, especially Roma. What do you think about this case? Did we improve or not? And then maybe a question which is not dealing directly with human rights, but if you have any statement towards banish decrees, which are now the problem in Slovakia, Czech country, Hungary and --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: Let me take your first question, which is that I think, especially since Mr. Dzurinda came into power, that the Slovak Government has made great efforts to address these issues. Some of them are not always within the power of the government to address; some issues are societal issues, and we try and make that clear where they are in the report that it may be societal discrimination, and not government discrimination.

But I do find again that a government that is more dedicated to democracy than its predecessor, than Mr. Macier's government, has taken this on as something it wants to try and work out.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) banish decrees just a little more?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: I'll just, I'll go with the first one. Thank you.

QUESTION: The human rights situation in North Korea.


QUESTION: Have you ever talked with the North Korea officially or anything about treat childrens?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: I personally have not. I know that the US in the past had a lot of contacts with the North Korean Government. The most recent contacts that I know of on these issues are by the EU, which is not -- I don't think they're finding them very fruitful.

We, late last year, as you know, on the Religious Freedom Report, designated North Korea as a country of particular concern. If you read the report on North Korea, I think on the first page you'll see a little footnote that says how difficult it is to get information out of North Korea. But it was obvious to me and others that the situation, certainly in terms of religious freedom and many, many other freedoms, was bad enough to warrant that designation of country of particular concern, so we made it.

But it is an issue that we are spending some time on, and we're going to be spending more time on in the future.

QUESTION: You mentioned the certification of aid to Colombia, and I wonder if your report paves the way for the certification of that. Have you seen enough progress in breaking the links between the army and the paramilitaries?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: We're still working with the Government of Colombia on it. We've walked through with them some things that we would like to see, and we will be talking to them further about that. So I would not take the issuance of this report as meaning that the certification is imminent.

QUESTION: About Uzbekistan, because we've tripled our aid now to Uzbekistan, I wonder if any of this new aid is going to be contingent on human rights. And Karimov, the president, is coming here next week. I wonder if there's any specific agenda items you're going to be asking of him to do better from this report to improve his record.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: We have, both myself and others, talked about specific things with the president and others in Uzbekistan. The funding you refer to you also contains, from my bureau and others, some of the things I talked about -- programming to begin to help open up the society in Uzbekistan more. And they will continue to pursue that.

QUESTION: As far as I know -- I didn't read all the report --


QUESTION: No, because I just read the bullets. I just wanted to know, I see you condemn, of course, torture and illegal detention. Do you still think that death penalty, which is legal in many countries -- would you label that penalty as a violation of human rights?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: You know we still have the death penalty here. It is a subject of great debate, and here in a democratic society it is something that basically has been democratically decided. It may be that democratically in the future another decision on the death penalty is taken. Certainly in terms of methods, I think you could talk about that, but the mere -- the fact of the death penalty I would not label personally as a human rights violation.

QUESTION: In this report you mention that, you know, Chinese Government is trying to put pressure on Muslim Uighur activists under the under terrorism umbrella. Could you comment on that a bit more?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: Yes. The Chinese Government has, for some years, been facing an issue out on its northwest border in this area with the Uighur population. They have chosen to label all of those who advocate greater freedom in that area, near as I can tell, as terrorists. And we don't think that's correct, and we have told them that we don't think that's correct, and just as we say in other countries, where people are advocating greater freedoms and greater civil liberties, that does not make them terrorists, and that we don't subscribe to their notion in that area.

QUESTION: Can I try again on Uzbekistan?


QUESTION: I'm just trying to understand the connection between the report, on the one hand, which is fairly frank as to the problems, and the requirements of the war on terrorism such that we are providing them with substantial military aid, which is increasing. I don't see the connection between those two things. Are there consequences attached to them failing to address the issues in the report, or is it simply a case where you give them more and more democracy funds or whatever to help them improve their human rights record?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: That's part of it, but it is also telling them over and over again, if you want a meaningful, long-term relationship, you're going to have to address these issues. When you send American troops overseas, they come with values. And if you want, as I said, this kind of meaningful, long-term dialogue with us, which they say they want, and a friendship, then you're going to have to do better on these issues.

QUESTION: You referenced the Taliban being overthrown. In that context, how does the report speak to nation-building? I know that President Bush said that America is not in the business of doing that. I was just wondering how --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: Generally, we don't get into what the US is doing in these countries. We try and avoid that. In the case of Afghanistan, it's also difficult because the installation of the new government came rather late in the year. But next year's report, I think you'll get a greater sense of how the country is progressing, which I would not say is nation-building. I think nation-building is something very different from what we're trying to do in a lot of these countries, especially on the democratic end of things. But I think you'll see more of that in next year's report.

QUESTION: Can you kind of put it into context of would it be trying to increase democracy or --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: We're trying to increase democracy, but also trying to extend a democratic government's authority throughout the country, I think will also be important.

QUESTION: One of the human rights groups I spoke to today said they were very happy to see so many references to things they thought might not be in the report because of the war on terrorism. They also said that they wondered whether the United States would take its own advice.

Do you think that the report can have an effect politically on what American politicians think should be done with the detainees?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: I think that's a separate issue which has been addressed many times from this podium and from the podium at the Pentagon.

QUESTION: Lorne, I want to follow up on Saudi Arabia. I'm a little bit surprised by your glib answer. With the demise of the Taliban, there is arguably no government in the world that has as bad a human rights record as Saudi Arabia does, especially when you consider what it does with half of its population. Even North Korea and Iraq don't put their women behind four layers of veils.

What is the United States doing to actively promote democracy and human rights with Saudi Arabia, on the argument that it's ever more important after 9/11?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: Well, I would say two things. Number one, I disagree that it's the worst violator.

QUESTION: Who is the worst violator?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: I would place Iraq and North Korea and Libya and a couple of other countries into that category.

Number two, as the President said in this State of the Union Address near the end, in a paragraph that was not as noticed by some as the "axis of evil", we intend to begin working with governments to ensure that people who believe in these values have a voice in their country. That is something that, to the degree the President stated it, is new. And that is something we are going to be working on very, very much in the future.

There are a number of countries in the Arab world -- there are a number of countries in the Muslim world -- that have already, on their own, demonstrated the capacity to begin pluralization and more democratic practices. You see it in Morocco, Jordan, Turkey, to a degree in Indonesia. You are also beginning to see it more and more in the Persian Gulf, in places like Bahrain and Oman and Qatar, which I mentioned in my introductory remarks in the report.

It doesn't mean that they're perfect. You know, all of these countries I just mentioned in the Persian Gulf have a great problem with trafficking, for example. But where people are trying to become more pluralistic and to become more democratic on their own, that is something that I think is worthy of our support and can serve as an example to others.

QUESTION: You didn't answer my question. What is it that we are doing in Saudi Arabia to promote that greater voice and greater democratic participation?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: We are talking to the Saudi Government about how to do that, and we are going to encourage others in the Muslim world, in the Arab world, who are trying to make their societies more democratic.

QUESTION: At what levels are we talking? I mean, there's nothing that's visible at all to us in the outside world. It's different from in the past.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: Okay. I would look at the last paragraph, the last couple paragraphs, of the President's State of the Union Address.

QUESTION: But I heard this before. I'm asking specifically about one country.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: Yes. What are you asking?

QUESTION: I'm asking what it is the United States is doing.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: And I think I've outlined that. We're talking to them at many levels about these issues in their country. We're talking to a lot of people across the Arab and Muslim world about these issues in their countries and about how they can serve as examples to others.

QUESTION: Yes, with regard to your statement on China, has Israel been reminded that liberty and equality for the Palestinians, and the fight for that, does not equate to terrorism?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: I'm sorry. Has who been reminded?



QUESTION: You reminded China that a fight for equality and liberty does not equate to terrorism. I'm not quoting you exactly, but very closely. I'm saying the Palestinians are fighting for their liberty and equality. They often say that. Has this subject of Israel not equating the fight by the Palestinians with terrorism been raised by the Government of the United States?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: I would say two things. Number one, I think that the Uighur and the Palestinians manifest their desires in different ways. And number two, you have heard since this administration came into power repeated statements on what we would like Israel to do in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, most recently on Friday from this podium by Mr. Boucher. So I think we are making that clear to them.

QUESTION: Can I go back to Robin's question on Saudi Arabia? You mentioned in the State of the Union Address that the President wanted to support people who believe in our values, to give those people a voice. And in some countries, as mentioned before, such as Uzbekistan, you said that we're supporting or funding programs. In Kazakhstan you mentioned a printing press.

Can you point to any kind of tangible things? And when you say we're talking to the Government of Saudi Arabia, are we talking to them about starting such programs up, or are we just simply mentioning that they have a human rights problem?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: Can I talk about tangible advances in particular countries? There are things I would point to. Pakistan's decision to eliminate the requirement that religious minorities be elected separately from the mainstream electoral system. That is something that we have talked to them about for years. Is that something they did?

QUESTION: Is that something we've talked to the Saudis about?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: They don't have elections. Is that something that we're doing? Is that something they did because we're allied with them on the war on terrorism? I don't know. But it's something that we had asked them for for a long time that they have now decided to do.

QUESTION: I'm talking about -- and the reason Saudi Arabia is important is because they are a US ally and they are so touchy about what appears -- you know, sort of American and Western values, particularly when it comes to women. So when you mention that you're having discussions with the Saudis, I think that -- I mean, we'd like to know what specifically do you really plan to do to change things, or are you just going to sort of talk to them and talk to them, and keep it --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: No. As some of you know, I don't really enjoy long, extended conversations with no outcome, and we'd be looking for an outcome in the case with any country we were talking to.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) before -- that previous administrations have done before on Saudi Arabia. We've been talking for years with the Saudis. What's different?


QUESTION: Because other administrations told us that they've talked to the Saudis about human rights and democracy issues, participation in women's rights and all of it.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: Well, yeah, I understand. Other administrations have talked about these issues. I hope you're gong to see more of an effect from this administration.

QUESTION: But what is it -- that doesn't answer the question.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: What is different currently?

QUESTION: What's different from what this administration is saying to them than previous administrations have said to them?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: You'll have to judge by the outcome. You'll have to see how we do it differently.

QUESTION: Why can't you give us some indication? What's the big secret? You talk about what we're doing tangibly in every other country but Saudi Arabia.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: Because I don't yet know the effect in Saudi Arabia. I can tell you an effect in Pakistan or I can tell you an effect in Uzbekistan. I don't yet know the effect in Saudi Arabia. And you will have to judge us not by what we say we're doing, but by what is accomplished in these countries.

QUESTION: You had mentioned that the war on terrorism had allowed for a wider range of contacts in Uzbekistan and Pakistan. Can you point to a specific outcome or human rights breakthrough that those contacts have allowed to happen in either of those countries?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: In the case of Uzbekistan, I can't tell you that it was because we asked for it, but there was recently, for example, a trial, the first time ever, of policemen who had tortured somebody to death in that country. There was an amnesty that was announced in August of the year 2001 that was carried out in the fall of 2001 that included, for the first time, a large number of political prisoners.

So these are things that are happening. Again, can I relate them to the fact that we were asking for specific items? You'd have to ask the Government of Uzbekistan that.

QUESTION: I just want you to refocus your attention on Colombia and this certification process. And could you please provide us more details on what kind of talks are you holding with Colombian Government?

And the second question is if these same prohibitions of the foreign aid act applies to the Andean Regional Initiative countries.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: The provisions being discussed are provisions about the links between the army and the AUC in Colombia, the paramilitaries. The discussions we have had -- I've had two -- no, actually four sets of discussions with the Colombian Government, and others in the State Department have other discussions with very high-level figures on the civilian side and on the military side of the government in Colombia about these links.

QUESTION: Excuse me, sir. What about the other countries in the Andean Regional --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: Yes. Well, these -- the kind of situation we're discussing where there are links between the army --

QUESTION: No, no, between the foreign aid and the certification.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: I'm not aware -- no, I don't think there are other human rights certifications required for other Andean Regional Initiative countries.

One more.

QUESTION: How concerned are you, sir --


QUESTION: I'm sorry. How concerned are you, sir, that many of your so-called alliances with countries that are with you in the campaign against terror have a very prominent position in your Reports, some of them, like I hear, Iraq and Pakistan, even more than so-called "axis of evil" countries. How concerned are you, sir, that you're allying yourself with countries with thick folders of human rights violations?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: If, in aligning ourselves with them, we are able to address the human rights situations in their countries and improve the situation in their countries, where we might otherwise not be able to do that, I'm not concerned. I think it's actually for the better that it happened, and I think we will look back some years from now and say it was an important by-product of our alliance with them.

QUESTION: But to follow up on that, can you talk about, if there's any trend, how you think that these Reports now on human rights conditions and records and countries are now seen -- and you mentioned in the report that everything on September 11th has changed. I mean, how do you view human rights now through the prism of the war on terror? I mean, have you been surprised that countries have used as an excuse, or have you been pleasantly surprised that they haven't? If you could talk about some kind of trend, maybe.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CRANER: I would say that we have adopted the position -- I have heard our senior officials state it -- that this is part of the war on terrorism, the fight for human rights. I have not been surprised by some governments that have tried to use the war on terrorism in their own domestic politics, but I'm also being pleasantly surprised by the number of governments, like I said, that understand if they're going to get their economies on a sound footing, and they want a real relationship with us, they're going to have to start addressing these issues.


Released on March 4, 2002

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