Subject: US failed to screen foreign trainees, GAO says

[full GAO report can be found at gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-05-793]

Also: US failed to screen foreign trainees, GAO says

Indonesia denies human rights abuses

By Niniek Karmini, Associated Press Writer | July 30, 2005

JAKARTA, Indonesia --Indonesia denied Saturday that any of its security forces trained in the United States had a history of human rights violations, as alleged in a report released by a U.S. congressional investigative office. Article Tools

The Government Accountability Office said in the report issued Friday that military trainers violated U.S. law by instructing 6,900 Indonesian, Filipino and Thai police without determining beforehand whether they had a history of human rights violations.

The Southeast Asian police were trained by the U.S. Justice Department with State Department law enforcement assistance between 2001 and 2004 at a cost of $265.7 million, the report said.

Among the 4,000 Indonesians trained in civil-military relations and human rights issues were 32 trainees "from a notorious special-forces police unit previously prohibited under State (Department) policy from receiving U.S. training funds because of the unit's prior human rights abuses," the report said.

But Indonesia's National Police Spokesman Brig. Gen. Sunarko Danu Artanto said the report was the work of forces aimed at derailing efforts to reform his department. The police have received massive U.S. training in recent years because of a long-standing U.S. ban on providing assistance to the military.

"We deeply regret such accusations which are blown up by some parties who do not want to see our personnel become professional," Artanto said, adding that none of the officers trained had human rights violations. "Indonesia needs professional security forces to fight against global crime and terrorism acts. We have always carried out our duties with respect to human rights."

But rights activists say the report was not surprising and reaffirms their concerns that the United States is moving too quickly to normalize ties with Indonesia's historically corrupt and abusive security forces.

"We recognize that police need professional training, but it should be given for only selected officers with a clean human rights record," said Usman Hamid, a human rights activist. "From our past experience, we have seen that there is no accountability or justice in this country for human rights."

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US failed to screen foreign trainees, GAO says

Human rights concerns cited

By Reuters | July 31, 2005

WASHINGTON -- The United States failed to screen security force trainees in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand for human rights violations before it sent those countries millions of dollars in aid, Congress' investigative arm says. Article Tools

The Government Accountability Office blamed most of the lapses on the State Department, but it also found shortfalls at the Justice Department. The GAO's report, released Friday, said the Defense Department did a better job at screening trainees. The United States provides assistance to military and police forces in more than 150 countries, but it is illegal to send aid when there is evidence of gross human rights violations.

The GAO said the United States spent $265.7 million between 2001 and 2004 to equip and train forces in those Southeast Asian countries without investigating nearly 7,000 foreign security force trainees for gross human rights violations.

''We found no evidence that the three posts we visited vetted an estimated 6,900 law enforcement officials trained with State assistance," the GAO concluded. ''Departments and posts lacked clear and consistent vetting procedures," the GAO wrote.

The Defense Department did a better job at reviewing foreign trainees, GAO said. Nearly 90 percent of Defense trainee files from the Philippines selected for the study showed some evidence of review, it said.

A State Department spokeswoman said the department's assistance programs were in ''full compliance with the law," adding that officials were working to address the concerns raised by the GAO. ''We take the GAO report very seriously in light of our commitment to human rights and to the objectives of the law," said Nancy Beck.

The GAO study recommended that the secretary of state, in consultation with the defense secretary and attorney general, improve management of the program by issuing written guidance to posts and headquarters overseeing the human rights violations screening.

Indonesia denied yesterday that any of its security forces trained in the United States had a history of human rights violations. Indonesia's National Police spokesman, Brigadier General Sunarko Danu Artanto, told the Associated Press that the report was the work of forces aimed at derailing efforts to overhaul his department. The police have received massive US training in recent years because of a longstanding US ban on providing assistance to the military.

''We deeply regret such accusations which are blown up by some parties who do not want to see our personnel become professional," Artanto said, adding that none of the officers trained had human rights violations. Thailand and the Philippines did not immediately respond to the report.


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