The United States is withholding crucial military aid to the Philippines to protest its failure to hold security authorities responsible for "extrajudicial killings," according to the U.S. ambassador in Manila.
"The U.S. government will continue to press for progress on addressing past cases and the ongoing problem of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines," Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr. said in a recent meeting with human-rights activists.
The ambassador declined to say how much money is involved but explained that President Obama wants the Philippines government to meet "certain conditions" involving past killings by police and soldiers.
Mr. Thomas cited a State Department report from last year that human rights abuses by security forces are continuing under President Benigno Aquino III, who promised judicial reform when he took office in June 2010.
The ambassador, however, recognized Mr. Aquino's efforts to deal with the issue.
After Mr. Thomas' remarks at a forum with human-rights advocates on Friday, Mr. Aquino tod reporters that his administration is serious about judicial reform.
"Under our watch, I've tasked the secretary of justice to reform the prosecutorial system where convictions have to be the primary criteria of having done your job," Mr. Aquino said in a radio interview.
PRESSING CHINA OVER CHEN
U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke is raising the diplomatic stakes over China's repression of human rights by going public with criticism that he expressed first in private.
The new American envoy in Beijing told reporters of the concern he raised over the detention of Chen Guangcheng, a blind lawyer who remains under house arrest after four years in prison.
"He was convicted of violating the state-secrets law for simply downloading material that was readily available on the Internet," Mr. Locke told the GlobalPost, an Web news service.
"Although he's been freed, he is still under severe restrictions on his movements."
Mr. Chen incurred the wrath of the Communist government by exposing abortions forcibly performed on women in the Shandong province who had violated China's one-child policy.
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
• NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who meets President Obama.
• Defense Minister Mart Laar of Estonia, who discusses cybersecurity threats in a forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
• Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tang, who meets with Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durban of Illinois and Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee. He also addresses the Brookings Institution, the Business Roundtable and the Heritage Foundation.
• A group of civil society leaders from Central Asia: Hikmat Abdurahmanov of Uzbekistan, Kakhorjon Aminov of Tajikistan, Sarnai Galindiv of Mongolia, Dadebay Kazakov of Turkmenistan, Uluk Kydyrbaev of Kyrgyzstan, Samiullah Mahdi of Afghanistan, Khatuna Mshvidobadze of Georgia, Ramid Namazov of Azerbaijan, Bayasgalan Naranzul of Mongolia, and Jamshed Rahmonberdiev of Tajikistan. They discuss new strategies for the old Silk Road in a forum at the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The column is published on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
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