On August 4, the Russian government-funded international broadcaster RT posted a video report on allegations of child sexual abuse by Afghan security forces, with a written preface claiming the U.S. has failed to acknowledge the problem publicly and disregards human rights.
“Afghan military are suspected of molesting minors. However, a public acknowledgement of this fact would mean a rupture of the U.S. relationship with Kabul. But Washington has invested about $700 billion in the Afghan campaign over the last 15 years and is not ready to lose its investments," RT wrote on the Russian-language version of its website, which also posted a video on the subject.
However, the Russian-language version of the video omitted an entire section that was included in a piece on the subject published August 1 on RT’s English-language website. That piece discussed a report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) on the issue of child sexual abuse by Afghan military. RT also failed to note that this SIGAR report was the catalyst for recent news reports on child abuse in Afghanistan.
The U.S. Congress created SIGAR to “provide independent and objective oversight of Afghanistan reconstruction projects and activities” supported by U.S. funding in Afghanistan. SIGAR investigates Afghanistan reconstruction projects and activities in order to prevent abuse, fraud, and waste.
SIGAR stated in its quarterly report to the U.S. Congress published on July 30 that it had issued a classified evaluation of the Defense and State departments implementation of the Leahy Law as it pertains to Afghanistan. The Leahy Law is a U.S. human rights law -- named after its principal sponsor, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) -- prohibiting the State and Defense departments from assisting foreign military units if there is credible information those units have committed gross human rights violations.
According to SIGAR, the classified evaluation “concerns allegations of sexual abuse of children committed by members of the Afghan security forces” and “discusses the extent to which the U.S. holds Afghan security forces accountable.”
Thus, SIGAR’s latest quarterly report contradicts RT’s claim that the United States has not publicly acknowledged the problem of child sexual abuse by Afghan military and that it disregards human rights violations in Afghanistan.
In addition, SIGAR is calling on U.S. Defense Department to release the classified report to the public. Moreover, SIGAR’s quarterly report, citing the latest annual trafficking-in-persons report issued by the State Department, says that “the Afghan government does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.”
According to State Department’s June 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report, the Afghan government enacted a new law on human trafficking in January of this year. Among other measures, the law criminalizes the practice of bacha baazi, “in which men exploit boys for social and sexual entertainment.”
The State Department report noted that the Afghan government convicted traffickers, including officials complicit in bacha baazi, but overall failed to meet the minimum standards in several areas.
“Afghan officials remain complicit, especially in the sexual exploitation and recruitment of children by Afghan security forces,” the SIGAR report notes, citing the State Department’s assessment.
U.S. Defense Department spokesperson Adam Stump said “each case [of child rape] requires a factual and legal review to determine whether it is a credible allegation of a gross violation of human rights under the Leahy Law."