Under the so-called Leahy law, first approved in 1997, Washington is banned from providing training or other kinds of assistance to any foreign military unit if there is "credible evidence" that it has committed "gross violations of human rights." The ban can be waived if the secretary of state certifies that the relevant foreign government is "taking effective measures" to bring to justice responsible members of the unit.
The Kopassus have been notorious for employing brutal tactics since the 1970s, particularly in East Timor, Aceh, Papua and Java. Various human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the East Timor Action Network, have accused the unit of murder, torture and kidnapping among other egregious rights abuses.
The plan to resume U.S. training, however, proposes to limit participation to younger members of Kopassus, as their age would make it more likely that they had not participated in the group’s most notorious abuses.
The new efforts to engage the Indonesian military follow Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comments last week at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting that the administration hoped to expand its military partnership with Indonesia and enhance counterterrorism cooperation.