Pentagon Provided Funds to Afghan Units Accused of Child Sexual Abuse: Government Watchdog

Elizabeth McLaughlin, ABC News, January 23, 2018

A government watchdog group said the Department of Defense has provided funding to Afghan military units accused of child sexual abuse.

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) released its review of how DoD and the State Department have handled allegations of child sexual abuse committed by members of Afghan forces. The report specifically examines how the U.S. has implemented the Leahy law, which withholds funds from Afghan units if there is credible information of a gross violation of human rights.

Some 93 members of Congress requested the review back in 2015 after the New York Times published articles about the “rampant” sexual abuse of children by members of the Afghan military and police forces.

SIGAR found that despite DoD and the State Department’s knowledge of confirmed human rights violations among Afghan security forces, the Secretary of Defense has used a clause in DoD’s Appropriations Act that continues to provide them funding for select training, equipment, and other assistance—bypassing Leahy law compliance.

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DoD has provided funds to twelve Afghan security force units implicated in fourteen gross violation of human rights incidents in 2013, SIGAR said. {snip}

SIGAR interviewed 37 individuals and organizations for their report, twenty-four of which said they were aware of child sexual assault incidents or related exploitation by Afghan security forces to include bacha bazi—an Afghan term which translates to “boy play” and encompasses sexual relations between adult men and boys.

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A third service member interviewed by SIGAR said it was well known on his base that sex occurred between boys and Afghan National Police personnel.

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In a statement to ABC News, the State Department thanked SIGAR for its report, and said they will continue to impress on the Afghan government at the highest levels the importance of more effective action to prevent these practices.

“We have long been aware of the challenges that SIGAR highlights in its report, and strongly condemn any violation of human rights, particularly child sexual assault and the practice of bacha bazi in which men exploit boys for social and sexual entertainment,” the State Department said.

“Our 2016 Human Rights Report and 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report makes clear that we take a strong stand against the abuse of Afghan children,” they added. {snip}

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