U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING Friday, June 10, 1994 I N D E X Briefers: Christine Shelly HAITI Travel Warning, Embassy Drawdown ..................1-4 Military Intervention .............................3 Cut Off of Commercial Air Traffic, Timing .........1,3 Refugee Processing Program/Human Rights Monitors ..3-4 RWANDA Genocide, Human Rights ............................4-7 Legal Obligations of Genocide Determination .......6-7 CANADA Penalization of American Fishermen ................7 NORTH KOREA Russian-Proposed International Conference .........7-8,10 Sanctions Resolution ..............................8 IAEA Resolution Suspending Technical Assistance ...8-9 SERBIA-MONTENEGRO Lifting Sanctions for Peace Settlement ............9-10 (###)
DEPARTMENT OF STATE DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
FRIDAY, JUNE 10, 1994, 1:27 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We had to start late today, waiting for what was going to be announced on Haiti over at the White House to take place. I'm sure most of you, if not all of you, have listened to that. I have some additional information to add to that, so I'm going to kick off with that.
We are issuing today from the State Department a new travel warning on Haiti. I'd like to just take a minute and read that to you, and then I'll provide you with some additional information. This is dated June 10.
U.S. citizens are warned against travel to Haiti. Effective June 25, 1994, commercial passenger air service to and from Haiti in the U.S. will be suspended. As a result, the United States Department of State has ordered the departure of U.S. Embassy dependents and some Embassy employees from Haiti.
U.S. citizens in Haiti who are not affiliated with international assistance and other international programs or with U.S.-sponsored humanitarian assistance and refugee processing programs are therefore urged to depart Haiti.
U.S. citizens should make arrangements to leave as early as possible, as airline seating may be limited. The political situation in Haiti remains unstable with potential throughout the country for random violence, sporadic disturbances, and criminal acts.
The police and judiciary are unable to provide adequate levels of security and due process. Any U.S. citizens in Haiti are urged to register with the U.S. Embassy if they have not already done so.
This replaces our travel warning dated October 14, 1993, to reflect the suspension of the commercial air passenger service and the ordered departure of U.S. Embassy dependents and some Embassy employees from Haiti.
Because of the ban to which I just referred on commercial flights and financial transactions, we are advising Americans not engaged in essential diplomatic or humanitarian work to depart Haiti as early as possible. And consistent with this, the U.S. Embassy in Haiti is sending home its dependents and a number of its personnel.
The Embassy will maintain reduced staff to ensure that it can provide services to American citizens to administer humanitarian aid programs and to continue refugee processing and monitoring and also to be able to continue to report on the situation in Haiti.
The initial reduction is for a 30-day period. We will watch the situation in Haiti very carefully and will restaff the Embassy when appropriate.
The Embassy in Port-au-Prince currently includes about 200 direct hires, contract staff, and dependents. And, as I said, enough staff will remain at the Embassy to continue running our essential operations there.
I'll be happy to take your questions.
Q Senior U.S. officials had said that prior to President Clinton making this announcement, that all Americans in Haiti who wish to leave would be alerted and allowed to do so. Was that done?
MS. SHELLY: I'd have to check on the timing of that. The notifications of this, the issuing of the new travel warning, that piece of information will be gotten out, if it hasn't already, through the warden system. But I'll check on the timing of that for you.
Q That's coming now after Clinton's announcement?
MS. SHELLY: As opposed to before?
MS. SHELLY: As I said, I just don't know. I'll have to check on the timing on that. In connection with this type of warning, and specifically the guidance that we have for American citizens down there, normally, what would happen is the information would be passed along through the warden system. And as to whether this was done at some point earlier in the day or now after the President's announcement, I just don't know. It will be done certainly during the course of the day.
Q Would you characterize the sanctions by President Clinton as the last step before military intervention?
MS. SHELLY: No, I'm not going to characterize that. I think the political aspects of what's being done, the specific measures and how they wish to characterize them, that's come out of the White House today. So those issues, I'm not going to get into.
Q Christine, apparently, the Haitians are saying 25 is a real good day to cut off air traffic, but we're going to cut off ourselves on the 21st. Do you have anything on that?
MS. SHELLY: No, I don't have anything on that. Because I believe what has been announced on this was the June 25th date, so I don't know anything about the 21st.
Q The Haitians are apparently saying the 21st.
MS. SHELLY: The date of our travel warning is effective June 25. Sorry, the travel warning is issued today. What I indicated about the commercial passenger air services is effective June 25.
Q Can you give us any numbers on how many U.S. dependents and employees will be going as opposed to how many will be staying?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know if an absolute number has been reached yet. I think the estimate at this point is that something in the range of 120 would be departing and approximately 80 would be staying. There might be some adjustment to that, but that's what the current plan is.
Q Christine, you say that some people will be left behind for the questioning on political asylum, but surely that program is going to suffer to some extent, will it not?
MS. SHELLY: In terms of how the list was drawn up, it was done very specifically with what the most important functions of the Embassy were in mind and particularly how those would be done. So there are people who are staying in connection with the humanitarian aid program. We also have the three in-country refugee processing centers. They'll remain open, and they'll continue to operate normally.
Migrant repatriation observation will continue albeit with the reduced staff. The other aspects that I've mentioned that we are going to be tracking -- we'll be continuing on human rights monitoring, for example. We'll be working with the U.N. and the OAS to ensure that the human rights monitoring will continue under the ICM -- the International Civilian Mission. In addition, the Embassy will continue to monitor and report on human rights issues, generally.
Q Did I understand correctly, Christine, that the withdrawal of Embassy personnel was at least in part due to security problems within the country of Haiti, the security of Embassy personnel? Or is it simply an action of protest?
MS. SHELLY: No, it's not an action of protest. It is an action taken specifically in connection with the new sanctions, which were announced by the President today.
Any other questions on this? Okay. Alan, it's all yours.
Q How would you describe the events taking place in Rwanda?
MS. SHELLY: Based on the evidence we have seen from observations on the ground, we have every reason to believe that acts of genocide have occurred in Rwanda.
Q What's the difference between "acts of genocide" and "genocide?"
MS. SHELLY: As you know, there is a legal definition of this. There has been a lot of discussion about how the definition applies under the definition of "genocide" contained in the 1948 convention. If you're looking at that for your determination about genocide, clearly, not all of the killings that have taken place in Rwanda are killings to which you might apply that label.
Some of the difficulties over actually arriving at a definition of "genocide" and formulations on genocide are the reasons why -- particularly, in late May, the U.N. Human Rights Commission, with the very strong support by the United States, appointed a Special Rapporteur for Rwanda, specifically to compile the information on possible violations of human rights and on acts which constitute breaches of international humanitarian law and crimes against humanity, including acts of genocide.
His preliminary report, which is due later this month, will provide the additional information about the human rights violations -- the types, and presumably how they might be characterized -- and that is something that we have to wait for.
As to the distinctions between the words, we're trying to call. What we have seen so far, as best as we can, and based, again, on the evidence, we have every reason to believe that acts of genocide have occurred.
Q How many acts of genocide does it take to make genocide?
MS. SHELLY: Alan, that's just not a question that I'm in a position to answer.
Q Well, is it true that you have specific guidance not to use the word "genocide" in isolation but always to preface it with these words "acts of"?
MS. SHELLY: I have guidance which I try to use as best as I can. There are formulations that we are using that we are trying to be consistent of our use of. I don't have an absolute categorical prescription against something, but I have the definitions. I have phraseology which has been carefully examined and arrived at as best as we can apply to exactly the situation and the actions which have taken place.
Q Christine, I've noticed the wording from yesterday to today has changed somewhat. Yesterday it was "acts of genocide may have occurred," and now you're saying, "We believe they're likely to occur." Has there been a change from yesterday to today on our view of that situation?
MS. SHELLY: I don't know if there has been a change in our view. This is after careful examination by a lot of those who are involved in very careful tracking of this, including also the lawyers, because there are obligations which arise in connection with the use of the term.
When I gave the formulation at the outset, that's the formulation that we have all agreed accurately reflects the situation and our understanding of it.
Q Well, what is an act of genocide, Christine?
MS. SHELLY: As defined in the 1948 Genocide Convention, the crime of genocide occurs when certain acts are committed against members of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group with the intent of destroying that group in whole or in part.
The relevant acts include killing, causing serious bodily or mental harm and deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction of the group.
Q Wait a minute. You said genocide --
MS. SHELLY: This is the definition in the 1948 convention.
Q Of genocide.
MS. SHELLY: Of genocide.
Q You say genocide happens when certain acts happen, and you say that these acts have happened in Rwanda, so why can't you say that genocide has happened?
MS. SHELLY: Because, Alan, there is a reason for the selection of words that we have made, and I'm not a lawyer. I don't approach this from the international legal and scholarly point of view. We try best as we can to accurately reflect a description and in particularly addressing that issue, the issue is out there. People have obviously been looking at it.
We had said consistently prior to that that we believed that acts of genocide may have occurred in Rwanda, and we strongly supported full investigation and documentation of those crimes against humanity with a view to being able to make not only the evaluation of itself but to be able to describe it as accurately as we can.
And, as I said, I've told you what the language is on this at this point and also where we are vis-a-vis actions -- with support for the actions of the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva and their decision to send this team of the human rights of officers headed by a special rapporteur to investigate and document those breaches precisely for the view to be able to make any other determinations that we might need to make.
Q Christine, as a signatory to the convention, is the United States required to do anything once it has established that acts of genocide have occurred?
MS. SHELLY: The issue as to what obligations it might entail for the U.S. Government, as you know, the U.S. has strongly supported the introduction of a peacekeeping force in Rwanda as soon as possible to try to protect the individuals at risk and to assist in this supply of humanitarian assistance.
The U.N. has commitments on the part of ten nations to provide troops for this operation. The U.S. is going to assist with that in financial, logistical and material support.
We believe that this international force is the proper response to protect the individuals at risk. In addition to that, as we said, because of the facts of the situation, certainly the most recent ones that have come out, it's the reason why we are also pursuing this via the United Nations Rights Commission and the decision specifically to send the human rights officers to there in order to be able to do the investigations and the necessary documentation in order to evaluate the breaches of international law and crimes against humanity which includes the acts of genocide.
Q Does something follow? Are there war crimes or genocidal war crime procedures?
MS. SHELLY: There can be investigations of this. I understand that parties to the convention can also call upon competent U.N. organs to take appropriate actions with a view to preventing and suppressing acts of genocide. Under the convention also, the prosecution of persons charged with genocide is the responsibility of competent courts in the state where the acts took place, or alternately it can be by a competent international tribunal.
So those are possibilities which might emerge, presumably after the report comes in from the U.N. High Commissioner -- their experts who are going.
Q What does the State Department think of Canada's decision yesterday to penalize American fishermen in Canadian waters on the West Coast? Is this a legal action?
MS. SHELLY: I have not had time to prepare a response on that yet. We have seen the statements that were made yesterday in Canada by this. I expect that I'll actually be issuing a statement on this later this afternoon.
Q Korea. Do you have any announcement about the United States acceptance of the Russian proposal of international conference?
MS. SHELLY: No. I don't have anything new on the Russian proposal at all. Secretary Christopher was meeting with Foreign Minister Kozyrev in Istanbul, as you know. That was taking place earlier today. I unfortunately do not have a readout on that meeting, and so I haven't had a chance. I don't know what was said in their comments to their press afterwards, so if they've addressed that -- in any case I don't know whether they did, and so I can't tell you that. But if they have addressed that, I wouldn't be likely to be adding anything beyond what the Secretary said anyway.
Q I have the communique here. Can you find out for us, Christine, which countries might be involved, where the meeting might take place, and when, projected -- when the meeting might be set and convened?
MS. SHELLY: What meeting?
Q This particular meeting Mr. Li is referring to, the conference that was proposed by Kozyrev as a means of getting the --
MS. SHELLY: I don't have any details on that. Again, this is something -- I haven't seen the statement, so I don't want to get involved in citing partial bits. I haven't seen it. I don't have any information on that, and I'm sure that when there's something to announce on that, if there is something, that we'll do that. But I'm not going to take the question either, because I just don't have any information.
Q Bosnia. Warren Christopher said yesterday - -
MS. SHELLY: Is it still on Korea?
Q No, Bosnia.
MS. SHELLY: Okay, sorry. Other questions on Korea?
Q When do you expect the United States is shooting for the sanctions resolution at the United Nations Security Council?
MS. SHELLY: I don't have a lot of additional details on this for you today. The discussions with our key allies on this are still continuing. The discussions and formal discussions among the P-5 members of the Security Council have still been going on up in New York. I think the expectation is that there will be a draft that will be developed that will reflect these discussions in the not-too- distant future. It certainly could be next week, but I don't have a precise time frame.
Q Does the IAEA's action today have any effect on these discussions, and what is it?
MS. SHELLY: It's certainly a piece of the plan. What I understand so far is that the Board of Governors adopted a resolution on this just a short while ago, and their resolution has a number of elements in it, among which they apparently decided in conformity with provisions of certain aspects of their own statute, they decided to suspend non-medical assistance -- this is basically the technical assistance that we've talked about before -- to North Korea that was being provided by the Agency.
They also requested the Director General of the IAEA to transmit this resolution to all members of the Agency and to the U.N. Security Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations. They also indicated they would remain seized of the matter and would request the Director General to report all relevant developments on the issue that they presumably had gone over, over the course of the week, to forward that as well to the U.N.
I don't have a lot of additional details on this. The resolution was adopted, I understand, by a vote of 28 in favor, one vote against, and I think it was either four or five abstentions. I don't have the precise number. But those are really the only details I have at this point.
Q Do you have any assessment on what effect this will have on how North Korea reacts? Has there been any kind of a response?
MS. SHELLY: I'm just not in a position, I think, to know at this point, since it just happened a very short while ago, and I don't know if there's been any reaction yet out of North Korea.
Q Bosnia, then. Warren Christopher acknowledged yesterday that the United States would support lifting the embargo if the Bosnian Serbs accept the peace deal. Isn't that a change in the American policy since before the United States said they wanted implementation of the peace before lifting the sanctions?
MS. SHELLY: Again, I'm a little bit constrained on this, because this has been under discussion out in Istanbul, and the Secretary has taken several questions on this and addressed this in a press conference and some of the photo opportunities associated with his meeting.
So the exact state of play on this, what the position is on all of these different aspects about sanctions and where the peace talks stand and that, I don't have a lot to say.
We've said since the beginning that if a peace settlement was being implemented by the Serbs, we would support consideration of a multilateral lifting of sanctions. I understand that this position was reaffirmed by the Secretary in Istanbul, but, as I said, I don't have the full picture on that.
As you know, the May 13 Geneva Ministerial was the basis for the current round of exchanges for the talks that have been held under U.N. auspices and also for the talks being held by the Contact Group. Those have continued to go forward. I think the Contact Group is supposed to be having another meeting, probably some time next week.
You know, in terms of the U.N. -- the talks under U.N. auspices, that there was an announcement, I think, on Wednesday that indicated that there had been a one month agreement regarding the restraint on not conducting further military actions. They would be continuing in their discussions to achieve a broader and more comprehensive cessation of hostilities.
Beyond being able to just tell you that, I don't really have a lot to add. Because, as I said, I don't have a complete readout on what's transpired in the last day.
Did you want to ask one more question?
Q On this Reuters report concerning the conference as part of the sanctions -- the thing that was just set up today -- if I may quote: "The U.S. endorsement of an international conference is a concession to Russia." Does this seem to be accurate as far as your knowledge of this matter, or --
MS. SHELLY: Again, I don't have a comment on that.
MS. SHELLY: Again, that's coming out of the party, and I'm not going to comment on that because we handle our issues via the division of labor. So I can't get into that.
Q Do you think there might be more news this day, possibly?
MS. SHELLY: On that issue?
MS. SHELLY: No, I'm not expecting that particularly, no. The party is enroute back here. We will take up these issues presumably on Monday, but I'm not expecting more on that today.
Q Thank you.
(Press briefing concluded at 1:52 p.m.) (###)To the top of this page