Submitted to VT by the Washington Post
The Washington Post’s Dan Lamothe reports that the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, a government watchdog, suggested that Congress may want to prohibit the Defense Department from spending money on Afghan military units whose members sexually abuse children of commit other human rights violations. But the Pentagon disagreed, saying such incidents must be weighed against U.S. national security interests. Full story: http://wapo.st/2n3rO8a
- The suggestion was made by the office of the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) in a previously classified report released Tuesday. It highlights the challenges the U.S. military faces in partnering with forces abroad that do not always adhere to the same codes of conduct. U.S. troops have long complained that some Afghan commanders sexually abuse boys.
- Ninety-three members of Congress requested that SIGAR investigate the issue after a 2015 New York Times report alleged that sexual abuse of children was “rampant” in Afghan units, putting U.S. troops in emotionally charged and challenging situations. The review focused on the implementation of the Leahy law, which restricts the U.S. government from assisting a foreign security unit found to be in gross violation of human rights.
- The law allows for exceptions when the defense secretary determines that continuing support to a problematic unit meets a national security concern. SIGAR suggested that Congress might want to eliminate that exception, and the Pentagon balked when it viewed a draft of SIGAR’s report. “The draft report does not fully convey the unique and difficult challenges of implementing the Leahy law in Afghanistan consistent with both the U.S. commitment to human rights and U.S. national security objectives in Afghanistan,” wrote Jedidiah Royal, a Pentagon official.
- The Pentagon resisted when lawmakers asked SIGAR to launch the investigation, an aide to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the namesake of the Leahy law, told The Washington Post in November. The Defense Department argued that SIGAR did not have the jurisdiction to examine the issue, even though SIGAR has routinely dissected U.S. work in Afghanistan, said the aide, Tim Rieser.