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Wednesday, 8 May 1985
Page: 1595

(Question No. 158)

Senator Bolkus asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 28 March 1985:

(1) What mechanisms are used by the Australian Government or by international bodies to monitor the abuse of human rights in the Philippines.

(2) What measures are being taken to evaluate the sale or donation of military equipment to the Philippines and the training of Philippine military servicemen in Australia.

(3) Is ASIS involved in the training of Filipino military intelligence agents at its Swan Island facilities.

Senator Gareth Evans —The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The Government devotes considerable time and resources to keeping itself informed about human rights developments in countries throughout the world, including the Philippines. The Australian Embassy in Manila is under standing instructions to provide regular reporting on the human rights situation and to follow up specific cases which have been referred to it. The Embassy obtains information from a variety of sources, both official and non-governmental. The Government complements reporting from Manila with information from other sources including the press, publications such as the United States Department of State's 'Country Reports on Human Rights Practices' submitted to Congress annually, and reports from a number of non-government organisations, including Amnesty International, which follows developments in the Philippines. The Government also takes note of reports submitted by the Philippines to United Nations bodies, notably the Commission on Human Rights, and also the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to which the Philippines reports as a State Party to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

(2) The Defence Co-operation Program with the Philippines ($1.755 million in 1984/85) comprises mostly training and technical advisory assistance related to Australian equipment supplied previously under the Program. The Program is determined in accordance with Philippines priorities and is designed to develop defensive capabilities and to assist in the transfer of technical and managerial skills which the Australian Services are well placed to provide. It is evaluated regularly through annual DCP consultations with the Philippines; annual visits to assess training requirements; visits to monitor progress of the various projects; reports by Australian project team leaders; visits by Australian experts to projects; and reports by the Australian Defence Attache. No military equipment has been sold to the Philippines in recent years.

(3) In accordance with the well-established and bipartisan practice followed by successive Australian Governments, I do not intend to comment on the matters raised in this question beyond noting that the activities and effectiveness of Australia's security and intelligence organisations have been reviewed by the Royal Commission on Australia's Security and Intelligence Agencies whose reports are currently being considered by the Government.