Wednesday, June 5, 1996

104th Congress 2nd Session

142 Cong Rec H 5832

REFERENCE: Vol. 142 No. 81

NOTICE: This is a preliminary document and is subject to revision, including addition or revisions to reflect final pagination.


MS. Jackson-Lee Of Texas. MR. Chairman, I rise to express my concern over h.r. 3540, the foreign operations appropriations bill, because it fails to include language directing the U.S. government to monitor human rights progress in Ethiopia as it obligates appropriations for Ethiopia in fiscal year 1997.

During the debate last year on the foreign operations appropriations bill for fiscal year 1996, i offered an amendment that included language to monitor human rights progress in Ethiopia. My amendment was adopted by the House. Unfortunately, my amendment was not included in the conference report on such bill but my colleagues assured me of their deep concern about human rights violations in Ethiopia.

While Ethiopia has made some progress in human rights since the new government assumed power, there are still too many instances of human rights violations throughout the country. individuals opposed to the current government, particularly journalists, academicians, and opposition party officials have faced ordeals that raise questions about academic freedom, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and the independence of the judiciary. many Ethiopians are facing trials for alleged offenses against the government and we must work to ensure that they receive a fair and impartial hearing. other citizens are being harassed as they attempt to express their views on the critical issues facing the country.

Ethiopia has a distinguished history and has always been a shining example for the rest of africa. the country has a bright future. as a superpower, the united states has an obligation to foster democracy and human rights around the world. We must engage ethiopia's h5843 ruling government to improve their human rights record. the united states state department and organizations such as amnesty international have chronicled the problems confronting ethiopia in this regard. over the past year, i have periodically communicated with state department officials to carefully assess the situation in the country and strongly encouraged the department to expand its efforts to improve human rights in ethiopia.

the congress of the united states should be on record supporting human rights progress in ethiopia and i encourage my colleagues to continue to support the inclusion of human rights as an integral element of our foreign policy. i will continue to voice my strong support for human rights in ethiopia and work with our government in advancing this important cause.

Subject: Re: U.S. Congress records--Human Rights in Ethiopia

Source: CONGRESSIONAL RECORD -- House June 12 1996


Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, at this time I would like to enter into a colloquy with the gentleman from Alabama regarding human rights in Ethiopia, as the House continues to consider this foreign aid bill.

Let me thank the chairman, first of all, for the work that he has done with my office as we have worked on this, even last year, as the gentleman may recall. I think it is very important that we move forward on this issue.

Mr. CALLAHAN. Mr. Chairman, will the gentlewoman yield? Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. I yield to the gentleman from Alabama.

Mr. CALLAHAN. Mr. Chairman, I am happy to enter into a colloquy with the gentlewoman from Texas.

Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, I thank the distinguished chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs for participating, as I said, in this colloquy, especially in light of the limited time that we have remaining to debate this important legislation.

There are numerous reports that the Ethiopian Government is harassing and unfairly detaining journalists, academicians, opposition party officials and other citizens. These events raise questions about freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the independence of the judiciary within Ethiopia.

I know that we have come a long way, Mr. Chairman, but I would ask the question, does the gentleman think that the United States Government should do more to support human rights in Ethiopia as we move this foreign operations bill forward?

Mr. CALLAHAN. Mr. Chairman, yes. I encourage the State Department, as a matter of fact, to carefully assess the situation in the country and use its influence with the Ethiopian Government to encourage them to improve human rights. I would note that the current government in Ethiopia is light years ahead of the former regime in terms of human rights.

Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Chairman, as the gentleman recalls, I successfully offered an amendment to the 1996 foreign operations appropriations bill which requires the State Department to closely monitor human rights progress in Ethiopia as it monitors funds for Ethiopia. We have been in dialog with the State Department, I have had a briefing, and that is why I rise again today. We realize that all is not well, even though possible progress may have been made.

The gentleman supported my amendment. As the State Department obligates the funds for Ethiopia in fiscal year 1997, I think that it is still critically important that the department continue to carefully monitor the country's human rights progress. Some progress has occurred but much remains to be done.

I strongly believe that Congress should be on record in the debate on H.R. 3540, the foreign operations appropriations bill for fiscal year 1997, as encouraging the State Department to continue this monitoring of Ethiopia.

Does the gentleman from Alabama agree?

Mr. CALLAHAN. Mr. Chairman, yes, I do agree. I believe that it is our role as Members of Congress not to dictate foreign policy to the executive branch but to express strong messages of concern to the State Department on human rights violations by countries who receive U.S. foreign assistance.

I am pleased that we have had this opportunity to discuss this important issue.

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