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Tillerson accused of breaching child soldiers’ prevention law

Tillerson accused of breaching child soldiers’ prevention law

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Nov 22, 2017 - 15:00

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been accused of contravening a federal law that prevents foreign militaries from recruiting child soldiers, reports a UK-based media outlet.

The accusation was leveled against the top American diplomat by a group of about a dozen US State Department officials in internal documents seen by Reuters.

According to the news agency, Tillerson violated the Child Soldiers Prevention Act in June when he decided to exclude Afghanistaninfo-icon, Iraq and Myanmar from a list of offenders.

The memo claimed there was concrete evidence of an Afghan government-backed militia recruiting and using a child, meeting the minimum threshold of a single confirmed case that the State Department had previously used as the legal basis for putting a country on the list.

On the other hand, the defense and interior ministries in Kabul vehemently denied the inclusion of minor soldiers in Afghan national security forces.

Excluding the countries off the annual list facilitates the provision of US military assistance to them. Afghanistan and Iraq are close US allies in the fight against militants, while Myanmar is an emerging ally.

On the face of it, the secretary’s decision was at variance with a recommendation by the heads of the State Department’s regional bureaus, the US envoy on Afghanistan and Pakistaninfo-icon, the department’s human rights office and its own in-house lawyers.

The memo says: “This decision risks marring the credibility of a broad range of State Department reports and analyses and has weakened one of the US government's primary diplomatic tools to deter governmental armed forces and government-supported armed groups from recruiting and using children in combat and support roles around the worldinfo-icon.”

Passed in 2008, the child soldiers law says the US government must be satisfied that no children under the age of 18 are recruited, conscripted or otherwise compelled to serve as soldiers for a country to be removed from the list

Tillerson’s decision to exclude Iraq, Afghanistan and Myanmar violated the law and effectively eased pressure on the countries to end the use of child soldiers, the State Department officials were quoted as saying.

PANinfo-icon Monitor/mud

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