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AMERICANS INCARCERATED ABROAD-CALENDAR YEAR 1978
During the past year, the Bureau of Consular Affairs completed an exhaustive internal analysis of its operations and functions, resulting in a reorganization which has greatly strengthened the Bureau's capabilities to provide the highest quality of services to Americans traveling or residing abroad and has enhanced its leadership role in providing guidance and support to United States consular officers abroad. One of the innovations resulting from the reorganization is the creation of the Citizens Emergency Center in Overseas Citizens Services. This Center, which includes among its organization the Arrest Unit, is dedicated to assisting Americans who encounter emergencies abroad. The Bureau has been active in attempting to educate the American public on the "do's" and "don'ts" for conducting themselves abroad. A number of radio public service announcements warning against drug abuse abroad were produced and distributed to some 1,600 commercial radio stations (including Spanish language stations) throughout the country. Senior officers of the Bureau conducted over 100 television and radio "open line" interviews with local stations across the country in an effort to warn against the dangers of drug abuse abroad. During the spring, the Bureau hosted a national conference in an effort to increase public awareness of consular services in general and to enhance cooperation between the Department and the travel industry in serving the American traveler abroad. This "Conference on the American International Traveller" was attended by officials from the media and the travel industry.
The Bureau has continued its efforts to improve training of consular officers through the Foreign Service Institute ("Consulate General" Rosslyn) and other training media. At Regional Consular Conferences, and through other means, it has provided United States Foreign Service posts with clear and more precise guidelines on various aspects of consular work, including protection and assistance to Americans detained abroad.
The Treaty on transfer of penal sanctions with Mexico has now been in force for a full year and 321 Americans convicted of crimes in Mexico have been returned to the United States under its provisions. Another important humanitarian milestone was the return of four imprisoned Americans from Mexico who were not convicted but were determined by medical authorities in Mexico to be mentally incompetent and not responsible for their actions.
The exchange treaty with Bolivia, also a year old, has resulted in the return of 7 Americans. These transfers, coupled with the efforts. made by the United States Embassy in La Paz to push for deportation
rather than incarceration of Americans found with minute quantities of drugs as well as closely monitor and expedite the judicial process for jailed Americans, have reduced the United States prisoner population in Bolivia to less than 20.
A similar treaty with Canada became effective at mid-year and so far 29 American prisoners from Canada have returned to the United States. After much difficult negotiation a final draft of an exchange of penal sanctions treaty with Turkey was initialed by Deputy Secretary Christopher during his visit to that country last month. It is anticipated that once this treaty has been signed and ratified it will resolve the plight of those Americans who have been incarcerated there for an extended period of time, facing lengthy prison terms.
An exchange treaty with Panama has been signed and is pending ratification. The Department has submitted a draft proposal to the Peruvian Government and this draft is in its final stages of deliberation by the legislative and judicial bodies there. The Department has also entered into preliminary discussions with countries such as Thailand, West Germany, and Denmark, and is exploring the possibilities of utilizing the existing European convention as a potential vehicle for establishing transfer of sanctions agreements with several European countries at once.
Posts abroad continue their efforts in areas such as conducting seminars for consular officers on the legal and judicial systems of the host country and preparing detailed fact sheets for distribution to new prisoners so that Americans arrested will at least have a fair idea of the type of judicial system with which they will be dealing. Certain posts are continuing to utilize the services of local attorneys on a contract basis to provide expertise and guidance in local law to United States consular officers. The Emergency Medical and Dietary Assistance Program continues to be a useful tool for consular officers abroad in their efforts to ensure that Americans incarcerated abroad have access to emergency medical treatment when needed and sufficient vitamins or other dietary supplements to maintain an adequate standard of health during incarceration.
During the year the Department dropped its rigid requirement that all Americans imprisoned abroad be visited by a consular officer on a monthly basis. This decision was made partly because of the strain on Department resources but primarily because of a number of convicted prisoners in the more advanced nations who neither desire nor derive any measurable benefits from a monthly consular visit as opposed to a bi-monthly or quarterly visit.
Each Ambassador or Chief of Mission was asked to survey the situation in each country, and to establish an appropriate visitation schedule. About 80 percent of our envoys decided to retain a policy of monthly visits, and in those areas where bi-monthly or quarterly visits. were substituted, posts were instructed to devote as much of the manpower savings as necessary to more frequent visits during the arrest and interrogation stages, and greater attendence at trials and hearings. This slight shift in emphasis is both proper and important, particularly given the pattern of prisoner mistreatment discussed later in this report.
The Department has continued its efforts to develop bilateral consular agreements, particularly with nations which have significant
American populations or protection and welfare problems. Although progress in this area must be measured against the seemingly slow pace of detailed negotiations, the Department is making some progress and hopes to make more. Bilateral conventions are particularly important in the case of arrested Americans, because it is through such conventions that arrestees can best be provided the rights of prompt notification of arrest to embassies and consulates, and be assured rapid access by a consular officer.
The computerized Consular Arrest System in the Citizens Emergency Center has now completed its first full year of operation, and, as indicated by the attached statistical reports (5 segments), the system has proved to be an invaluable tool to consular officers both here and abroad and also to Management in evaluating and projecting trends in a given area, country or world-wide.
The first segment attached is a world-wide summary which indicates for each country of the world the number of Americans detained at the beginning of the year, the numbers arrested and released during the year, and the number under detention at the end of 1978. The totals. reflect an increase of about 7 percent in the number of arrests during calendar year 1978 as opposed to calendar year 1977. However, the number of Americans actually detained abroad has shown a small but promising 2 percent decrease. This decrease in the number of Americans detained abroad is due largely to the transfer of sanctions agreements mentioned earlier, but also in part to continuing efforts to encourage the deportation of Americans arrested for minor drug offenses abroad, and to the efforts of Foreign Service posts to speed up the judicial process for arrested Americans.
This report also shows that approximately 50 percent of all arrests abroad of Americans in 1978 occurred in only five countries: Mexico, The Bahamas, Canada, The Federal Republic of Germany, and The Dominican Republic. In addition, close to 50 percent of all Americans detained abroad as of December 31, 1978 were in three countries, Mexico, Canada, and The Federal Republic of Germany. An encouraging note is the fact that the number of persons in custody in those three countries fell by about 15 percent in 1978.
The second segment, entitled "Prisoner Profile Report", outlines, by country, the average ages, sex and the drug vs. other charges for all Americans arrested in that country last year. It is interesting to note, for example, that the number of males arrested last year increased only 4 percent from calendar year 1977, while female arrests increased 11 percent. Males, however, still far outnumber females, constituting 86 percent of the Americans arrested. During 1978 females were arrested at an earlier average age (28.8 years) than males (30.8 years). The number of charges filed against Americans is higher than the number of arrests due to the normal incidence of multiple charges filed in a number of cases. The total number of charges filed against Americans is up by about 10 percent, and the number of drug charges is higher. Despite these increases in the number of charges, the actual count of persons arrested on drug charges is declining. In 1977 drug charges accounted for approximately 46 percent of all arrests, while the percentage last year dropped to 43 percent. This promising reduction occurred primarily during the second half of the calendar year, after
media outreach programs were conducted by the Consular Affairs Bureau during the spring and summer months.
The third segment, entitled "Charges Report" indicates the types of crimes Americans were charged with last year and their frequency of occurrence. As mentioned above, narcotics violations constitute the largest single charge filed against Americans. There were some noticeable decreases in charges such as robbery, rape, espionage, smuggling and terrorism, which were in turn offset by increases in assault, contraband (primarily alcohol in Moslem countries), customs violations, serious traffic violations and vagrancy.
The fourth segment, entitled "Drug Charges Reports," provides an in-depth look at the categories of drug violations and the types of drugs involved. Marijuana remains the illegal substance most frequently involved in narcotics arrests abroad, 58 percent of all drug arrests in 1978. Additionally, of this number, over 38 percent involved less than one ounce of marijuana or cannabis. The Department has been making every effort to communicate this information to potential travelers, particularly younger travelers, who have the misconception that drug laws abroad are easier or not as rigidly enforced as they are in the United States.
While drug-related arrests occurred in 70 countries around the world, the top five countries continued to be the Bahamas, Mexico, The Federal Republic of Germany, The Dominican Republic and Canada. Well over half (57 percent) of the drug charges brought against Americans occurred in these five countries and 91 percent of all the drug-related charges are concentrated in only 10 countries. Another serious problem is the relatively large volume of arrests occurring in three Caribbean countries-The Bahamas, The Dominican Republic and Jamaica. These three countries accounted for 568 arrests in 1978 or about 20 percent of the total number of arrests of Amercians abroad in that year, a 6 percent increase over 1977. Most of these arrests were drug-related (76 percent) and 50 percent of these drugrelated arrests were for the possession or consumption of less than one ounce of marijuana.
The fifth segment, entitled "Mistreatment Report" attempts to place some numerical perspective on the problems of mistreatment of prisoners. The Department is happy to report that incidents of mistreatment, both alleged and confirmed, decreased about 5 percent from last year. Of particular significance is the fact that instances of confirmed mistreatment, that is, those cases where consular officers were able to verify mistreatment from physical observation, medical reports, eyewitness accounts or host government investigations, decreased by over 60 percent from the 1977 estimates. As a case in point: in Mexico, where historically the largest number of mistreatment reports, both alleged and confirmed, originated, the number of confirmed cases of mistreatment during 1978 was only one-third of the 1977 figure.
Most instances of mistreatment occur during the arrest and interrogation stages (83 percent) as opposed to the later detention stages. For this reason, the Department continues to push for prompt notification by arresting officials, and for immediate access to American arrestees by consular officers.
It should be emphasized that this segment includes psychological harassment, as well as physical abuse, as mistreatment, and also con
siders refusal on the part of incarcerating officials to notify or permit notification to the nearest American Embassy or Consulate as mistreatment. Posts abroad continue to vigorously protest any mistreatment of American arrestees. This segment indicates that these actions are having a positive effect in this area.
ASSESSMENT OF ASSISTANCE PROVIDED TO AMERICAN CITIZENS
To provide a meaningful assessment of the assistance rendered by embassy and consulate personnel to American citizens incarcerated in foreign countries, the Inspector General of the Department has been requested to provide a special evaluation of these services in regularly scheduled inspections of overseas posts. The Inspectors also evaluate the performance of the consular section and of the senior management of each post.
The Office of the Inspector General reviewed the reports of 27 inspection trips conducted during calendar year 1978 (involving 85 Missions, 57 Consulates/Consulates General, five Consular Agencies, two Branches of Embassy, two Interests Sections and one detached Consular Office), for the purpose of assessing the performance of these posts in providing assistance to American citizens imprisoned abroad. During the periods of the inspections the Inspectors found American citizens incarcerated in 45 Consular Districts. Appropriate services were being rendered to these American citizens in 44 of the 45 districts; only in the case of the Consulate at Isfahan, Iran did the Inspectors recommend that the Consular Officers increase the rate of their visits to a monthly basis. The Inspectors noted that all posts were visited on a monthly or more frequent basis, with the exception of London, Reykjavik and Goteborg, Sweden; they recommended the latter two posts increase the rate of visits to a monthly basis; however, these recommendations were due to the regulations then in force, not to any belief that the lesser frequency was inappropriate. Inspectors recommended that Consular personnel at Bombay be more aggressive in seeking out information on American citizens arrested in the State of Goa (which does not automatically notify the Consulate General). They also instructed the Consular Sections at Addis Ababa, Hamilton and Isfahan to report on arrested American citizens as prescribed. Generally, the Inspectors found during calendar year 1978 that all Consular personnel were well aware of requirements concerning American citizens imprisoned in their areas, and had commendably good attitudes toward meeting their responsibilities. The Inspectors remarked especially on the performance of personnel in Addis Ababa and Benin, where local authorities are generally uncooperative, and in Chad, Colombia, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria (Kaduna), Panama, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Zambia, where local bureaucratic practices sometimes result in delay of notifications of arrests. Other posts singled out for special commendation in regard to services to prisoners were Cameroon, Denmark, Greece, Iran (Tabriz), Italy (Naples), Liberia, Madagascar, Norway, Pakistan (Lahore), Seychelles, United Kingdom (Belfast and Edinburgh) and Venezuela (Caracas).