NATO rejects child abuse allegations in Afghanistan

Allegations of child abuse by Afghan troops denied by NATO

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

US Army Commander for International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF), Gen. John F. Campbell

The senior Nato commander in Afghanistan has rejected allegations of US troops overlooking sexual abuse cases in Afghanistan by Afghan law keepers.

The New York Times reported on the claims last Sunday, saying that US troops had received specific commands to turn a blind eye on the matter from the Pentagon.

However, Gen John Campbell stated that no such orders exist and such cases have not emerged, saying he has personally toured Afghanistan and met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

"I want to make absolutely clear that any sexual abuse or similar mistreatment of others, no matter the alleged perpetrator or victim, is completely unacceptable and reprehensible," he said.

"I have personally spoken with [Afghan] President Ghani on the issue and he made it clear to me that the Afghan government will not tolerate the abuse of its children, or any of its people, and will thoroughly investigate all allegations and deliver justice appropriately," he added.

The newspaper presented confessions from several soldiers as well as from a soldier’s father killed in 2012.

"My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it's their culture," Gregory Buckley Sr was quoted the New York Times.

The report said that the US troops followed orders to preserve secrecy. The practice is called bacha bazi which means “boy play.”

"Soldiers and Marines have been increasingly troubled that instead of weeding out paedophiles, the American military was arming them in some cases and placing them as the commanders of villages - and doing little when they began abusing children," the New York Times said.

The white house has also expressed concerns about the issue.

“This form of sexual exploitation violates Afghan law and Afghanistan’s international obligations,” said White House spokesperson Josh Ernest.

“More broadly, protecting human rights, including by countering the exploitation of children is a high priority for the US government," said Ernest. 

"We monitor such atrocities closely and have continually have stood up for those who have suffered exploitation in denial of basic human freedoms.”

Afghanistan will sign an agreement with the United Nations attempting to stop the recruitment of children as soldiers, hoping to clear its name from such allegations.

Acknowledging the problem, the head of human rights at Afghanistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Asila Wardak said that sexual abuse of children in Afghanistan has been ongoing for years but measures against it are now being taken, the New York Times reported.

“There are a lot of measures to combat the sexual abuse of children,” she said.

"The problem has existed since I can remember, but this is the first time the government is taking practical steps against it.”


TRTWorld and agencies