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Reagan Administration Finds East Europeans ‘flawed’ in Performance of Human Rights

June 25, 1984
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Reagan Administration has described as "flawed" the perform-ance of the Soviet Union and the East European countries in the area of human rights.

"Although the record of compliance varied among the Eastern states, the performance was in general flawed in human rights and the humanitarian area," the State Department said in the 16th semi-annual report on the implementation of the Helsinki Act.The report also deals with the followup on Helsinki which ended in Madrid last fall.

The report, which covers the period from Dec.1, 1983, to March 31, 1984, was submitted by the State Department on behalf of President Reagan to Rep. Dante Fascell (D. Fla.), chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE).

The report documents the persecution which many Soviet citizens, including Nobel Prize winning scientist, Dr. Andrei Sakharov, have suffered for focusing attention on and attempting to alleviate the violation of human rights in the Soviet Union. This report is an important element in the U.S. government’s effort to assess the progress and shortcomings in the Helsinki Act’s goals of "strengthening security, expanding cooperation, building mutual confidence, and protecting human rights," a State Dept. spokesman stated when the report was transmitted.


The report pointed out a few "bright spots." It stated that "For most of the CSCE participating states, the status of implementation over the current reporting period did not change significantly from earlier periods. Some encouragement could be taken from progress by Bulgaria in resolving divided family cases, the continuing dialogue between the Polish government and the Roman Catholic Church, a limited extension in U.S.-Czechoslovakian cultural relations, and an upsurge during the first three months of 1984 in the number of citizens allowed by the German Democratic Republic to emigrate. The Eastern governments also generally complied with their undertaking to publish the Madrid Concluding Document. These relatively bright spots must be seen, however, in the wider context of strict government control and limitations on political and religious expression."

The report stressed that "Continued deterioration of the Soviet Union’s already poor record of compliance, however, gave greatest cause for concern. The Soviet authorities introduced further amendments to the legal code to strengthen their hand against independent forms of expression and to lend a fictitious air of due process to the ongoing campaign of repression against dissident elements. Laws on treason and anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda were broadened. A new regulation introduced the concepts of ‘service secret’ or ‘work-related secret’ aimed at even further inhibiting the free flow of information and ideas between Soviets and foreigners."

The report added, "Soviet persecution of individuals who attempted to express themselves outside the framework of state-controlled organs continued apace in the period under review. Religious believers, proponents of greater cultural and political rights for ethnic minorities, peace activists, and human rights activists Andrei Sakharov, Yuri Orlov and Anatoly Shcharansky continued to suffer varying degrees of unjustified confinement and persecution. Numerous less well-known figures were sentenced to terms in the notorious Soviet labor camp system. Soviet abuse of psychiatry also continued."


Despite commitments under the Helsinki Final Act to facilitate family reunifications, the report charged that "the rate of emigration from the Soviet Union continued to decline below the disappointing figures of early 1983. The decrease in Jewish emigration was accompanied by an increase in the level of official anti-Semitic propaganda."

"The Helsinki and Madrid Accords are not juridically binding documents, and there are no enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance," the report states. "The U.S. will continue to exert political and moral pressure for improved performance, and will call to account those who fail to live up to their commitments in the Helsinki process," the report points out.

The final Madrid Document provides for another followup meeting in Vienna in November 1986. A series of supplementary meetings will also be held before then. "The United States will use these to keep the Helsinki issues alive and before the public, while strengthening the Helsinki process," the report states.

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