Obama Grants Waiver to Give Aid to 4 Governments Using Child Soldiers
Monday, November 01, 2010
Child soldier in the Congo
Claiming that fighting terrorism is more important than protecting human rights, President Barack Obama has allowed four countries to continue receiving U.S. military aid even though they use child soldiers. The decision was made at the same time that a military jury, supported by the Obama administration, sentenced child soldier and Guantánamo prisoner Omar Khadr to 40 more years in prison for killing an American soldier during a battle in Afghanistan in 2002.
Under the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, which President George W. Bush signed into law just before leaving office, the U.S. government cannot provide support to nations that force teenagers and adolescents into the military—unless a waiver is granted by the White House. President Obama recently issued such waivers for the governments of Chad, Congo (DRC), Sudan and Yemen.
Administration officials said halting assistance to these countries would stymie their fight against al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, or interfere with U.S. efforts to reform abusive armies.
According to the State Department’s human rights reports, Chad has conscripted refugee children to serve as guards and combatants in battles against rebel forces. Congo’s army has forced children to carry ammunition and supplies through the jungle, killing some in the process. Both boys and girls have been forced into the army of southern Sudan, and in Yemen, children as young as 14 may comprise half the ranks of both the government’s forces and rebel units, according to The New York Times.
Human rights groups were not happy with the White House’s decision. “What the president has done is basically given everybody a pass for using child soldiers,” Jo Becker, children’s rights director at Human Rights Watch, told the media.
Obama Waiver Allows U.S. Aid to 4 Countries Using Child Soldiers (by Mary Beth Sheridan,
4 Nations with Child Soldiers Keep U.S. Aid (by Brian Knowlton, New York Times)
Child Soldier Cuts Deal with Obama Administration in Murder Case (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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