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Leahy’s remarks at State Dept conference on Leahy Law Implementation

Screen capture from State Section conference.

Right here is a video link (see comprehensive movie at end) to Senator Leahy’s remarks these days at the State Department’s conference on implementation of the Leahy Legislation, which has develop into the most considerable tool in the U.S. human legal rights toolbox. The movie features Deputy Secretary of Point out Wendy Sherman’s introduction of Leahy. And below is Leahy’s organized text.

Video Backlink:  https://www.youtube.com/StateDept

Senator Patrick Leahy
Remarks
Department of Condition
2022 Leahy Regulation Convention

September 6, 2022

Thank you Wendy, and thank you to the Office of State for convening this dialogue. 

The reality that we are undertaking this is substantial in and of alone.  20-5 yrs in the past, when I wrote what later turn out to be recognized as the Leahy Legislation, I do not imagine any person predicted that it would catch the attention of so a lot fascination and consideration – not just in this country but all around the environment.  

Again then, as a lot of of you know, there ended up provisions in the Foreign Guidance Act that reduce off help to countries exactly where there was a “consistent sample of gross violations of human legal rights.” 

But those legal guidelines, while nonetheless on the guides, have not been enforced.  Not by Democratic or Republican administrations.  As an alternative, successive U.S. governments were funding military dying squads in Latin America that routinely captured, tortured, and killed critics of the federal government, irrespective of whether customers of opposition political events, journalists, social activists, academics, or monks.

Latin The usa was not an aberration.  The safety forces of many nations around the world, together with some of our allies and companions, and UN peacekeepers, have extensive committed abuses with impunity.

The Leahy Law – and as you know there is a Condition Office model and a Protection Section variation – is built with two functions in mind:  to aid stop U.S. complicity in human legal rights abuses by foreign security forces, and to stimulate accountability when abuses come about.    

Think about the choice:   Offering guns, bullets, uniforms, and other devices and coaching, compensated for by American taxpayers, to foreign armed service and police forces who commit the worst crimes, even nevertheless their governments are undertaking nothing at all about it, or actively masking it up.

Even critics of the Leahy Law accept that is unacceptable. 

The obstacle has normally been how to apply the legislation to achieve what some might regard as competing or even incompatible nationwide pursuits, but which I think are complementary. 

If we rightly condemn ISIS for summarily executing prisoners, ought to we not also condemn the Iraqi armed service, which we guidance, when its soldiers brutally torture prisoners? 

It is a crime when Islamic Jihad targets civilians, but not when Egyptian soldiers shoot unarmed protesters?

I assume the respond to is obvious.

When we partner with international stability forces we immediately turn out to be concerned in the inside affairs of their international locations.  The way those people forces act and are perceived by their have people today displays – positively, or negatively – on us.  

When our associates, qualified or outfitted by us, commit abuses, we are complicit – or we are perceived to be complicit – in the predatory and abusive acts that erode the legitimacy of those forces.

I think most individuals comprehend this. 

To accomplish what we intend, the Leahy Law has been amended various times.  One instance was just two many years back, when I realized that the Point out Section was in essence not making use of the Legislation to governments that are among the major recipients of U.S. military aid.  We were being providing weapons, ammunition, armored personnel carriers, and other things in bulk, with out recognizing which models would get them. 

If you don’t know which models receive the devices, how do you know if they are qualified – or ineligible – underneath the Leahy Legislation?  It made a gaping loophole in the Regulation. 

There are several other examples, when diverse administrations have attempted to circumvent or reduce the application of the Law, like when the time period “assistance” was, for years, construed by the Point out and Protection Departments to only signify schooling, not tools.  That was a crystal clear violation of the letter and spirit of the Regulation, and it was important to amend it to make apparent what need to hardly ever have been in doubt.

An additional case in point is defining which elements really should be regarded as when determining whether facts is “credible”, for uses of the Regulation.  For case in point, we acquired of cases when the point that a source of information and facts experienced been critical of U.S. policy was employed as the sole motive to reject the details as not credible. 

Or situations when the simple fact that the Administration was not able to independently validate the data was the sole reason for rejecting it.  Nowhere does the Legislation say this, nor would it logically be interpreted that way by someone genuinely intrigued in enforcing the Law.  So we are amending it, at the time once more, to explain what must hardly ever have been in doubt. 

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The Leahy Regulation intends to make crystal clear that the United States will not tolerate or aid overseas companions who violate the individual integrity, dignity, or legal rights of their citizens.  People who get, dedicate, or go over up these crimes need to be prosecuted and punished. 

The Law also intends that all those who use torture or shoot prisoners for reasons of political expediency, or since local justice devices are slow or inefficient, will not receive U.S. assist.

That is what the Legislation requires when a foreign governing administration rejects the have to have to keep perpetrators accountable. 

But that is not the final result we want.  We want to support build experienced, disciplined, transparent, and accountable protection forces who are suitable associates for the United States. 

We can do that not by dealing with them as if they are previously mentioned the law – as we far too typically have accomplished – but by supplying an incentive to be accountable to the legislation. 

We need military services companions who are both equally able and accountable – who regard the rule of legislation, protect the legal rights of citizens, and create balance in their nations around the world. 

That is why the Leahy Law is not in conflict with the strategic, security purpose of “building partner capacity”.  To the opposite – the Regulation signifies a convergence of our regard for human legal rights and the rule of legislation, and our other countrywide protection interests.  

As a previous prosecutor, I know the great importance of accountability.  If our associates want to quit extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and pressured disappearances – which are crimes in nearly each individual state, they need to have to show that perpetrators will be punished.

That frequently needs elementary reform of judicial treatments and institutions, which will take time.  

The Regulation does not prescribe how accountability ought to be administered in each individual circumstance, nor do we have unrealistic expectations for international locations where the judicial system hardly functions.  We are seeking for the political will to end impunity, deliver the suitable incentives, and by doing so mail a favourable message to the citizens of those nations.

Disciplinary techniques and credible justice units distinguish experienced troopers and police from criminals.  

Accountability builds the community have faith in and aid that security forces want to counter terrorism and stop other violent crimes.

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That is why the Leahy Law emphasizes remediation.  U.S. officers – civilian and army – in Washington, at our embassies, and at the combatant instructions, must search for chances to assist their overseas associates in remediating models of stability forces that have violated human legal rights.

Unfortunately, this is another space where, for the most component, successive U.S. administrations have failed to implement the Leahy Law as intended.  With uncommon exceptions, if a unit is deemed ineligible below the Legislation, that is the finish of the dialogue.  The international federal government could not even be informed why.  There has almost never been a sustained energy to really encourage accountability, or to assist in that method, even even though the Legislation explicitly calls for the Secretary of Condition to guide governments in using this sort of ways.

The regulation demands lively diplomacy – “Leahy Law diplomacy.”  Civilian and armed service officers at overseas posts ought to frequently explore with their partners when and why units have been deemed ineligible via the vetting system, and what ways the overseas govt can and ought to consider to remediate.  These are not frequently simple discussions, but they are important.

I am in the final months ahead of I retire from the Senate.  The Leahy Law is a single of the points I am proudest of.  But I also know too perfectly that regulations are only words on paper.  What genuinely issues is how they are interpreted and enforced. 

In spite of the occasional naysayer who needs to waive the Leahy Legislation, or to make exceptions when the information do not help it, or who thinks specified allies are outside of reproach, more and a lot more individuals acknowledge that the Legislation is a lot less about making accusations than about defending human legal rights wherever they are violated, and setting up lasting partnerships we can be happy of.

A quarter of a century later on, and thanks in portion to several of you right here, the Leahy Legislation is remaining used far more successfully now than in the early many years right after I wrote it.  But it stays a operate in progress, and your conversations here are part of that system. 

One particular situation that I hope you will take into account is whether or not and how to lengthen the Leahy Regulation – possibly in statute or as a make any difference of plan – to models of international stability forces that purchase education and devices from the United States, not only to those that obtain grant help.  There is no logical rationale why the exact human legal rights regular need to not apply, whether a international federal government pays, or U.S. taxpayers shell out. 

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Despite the occasional bureaucratic inertia and resistance, I am assured the Leahy Legislation is listed here to continue to be.  Much more and more folks recognize that it is considerably less about pointing fingers than about setting up partnerships that are dependable with our values and our ambitions.

They acknowledge that the substitute is indefensible – supporting abusive security forces that dedicate atrocities with impunity. 

·That is not satisfactory to the American men and women

·It is not suitable to the folks of people nations around the world whose soldiers and police have a accountability to shield them and

·It really should not be suitable to our partners.

Thank you for providing me this opportunity, and thank you for supporting make the Leahy Regulation something we can all be proud of.