from State Department Daily Briefing, August 1, 2000
U.S. Department of State
TUESDAY, AUGUST 1, 2000
Briefer: Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Spokesman
QUESTION: Yes, on Colombia.
Yesterday, 30 NGOs in a letter to President Clinton and Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright urged them not to certify that Colombia may receive
military assistance because, in their words, they haven't complied with
the conditions that were included in the bill that gave birth to Plan
Colombia. They also warn against the use of a waiver to avoid the certification
process and decided yesterday to cancel a meeting that they had scheduled
today with Peter Romero where they were going to discuss precisely the
current situation on human rights in Colombia.
Do you have any comments on
MR. REEKER: I think everybody
will recall that on July 13th legislation which appropriated about $1.3
billion for Plan Colombia was signed into law by President Clinton, and
that law does require that the Administration submit to Congress a number
of notifications and reports and certifications. One of those certifications
requires that the Secretary of State certify to the appropriate congressional
committees and authorities that the Government of Colombia is undertaking
certain actions to improve human rights and drug crop eradication to areas
that we have highlighted annually in our narcotics report and our human
The law on Plan Colombia also
contains a waiver provision, as you noted, which would enable assistance
to be provided for Colombia without regard to the various requirements
if the President made a certification that this would be in the national
security interest to do so. Right now, the Department of State is working
with other agencies in the government to discuss implementing that law
and the certification and reporting requirements under that law and how
that will go about. So I don't have any specific things for you on that
process at this point.
We have held discussions and
consultations with human rights groups, certainly over a long period of
time, about the situation in Colombia. As I noted, every year we have
our human rights report which is based in part on conversations that we
hold with groups that monitor human rights in Colombia. The Plan, Plan
Colombia, as I said, the law requires that there be some specific consultations
with human rights groups on a variety of issues, and in order to meet
the requirement we do want to begin to have a regular process of meetings
with these groups beyond the periodic meetings that we've had for many
years, which I described.
It is unfortunate that the
meeting scheduled for today was canceled, since most of the organizations
had decided not to participate, but we will issue a new invitation and
try to reschedule something in the next several days.
QUESTION: This rescheduling
of the meeting would help the process and, as I understand, there is a
lot of urgency for the funds to get to Colombia because most of the anti-narcotics
programs are almost run out of funds. Do you have any time frame of when
this meeting is going to take place?
MR. REEKER: I don't have any
specific time frame. As I said, we regretted that the meeting that had
been scheduled for today with a number of human rights groups was canceled.
We're looking into issuing a new invitation in the next several days.
I don't have a specific time table or calendar for that. And as I said,
we're also continuing the discussions on implementing the various aspects
of the law in terms of the certifications and reporting requirements that
are necessary and how we'll go about doing that.
As of August 2, 2000, this document
was also available online at http://secretary.state.gov/www/briefings/0008/000801db.html