The United States should put pressure on governments identified by the State Department as using child soldiers to end the practice or lose US military assistance, Human Rights Watch said today.
The State Department’s 2010 annual report on Trafficking in Persons, issued today, identifies six governments involved in the recruitment and use of child soldiers. A US law enacted in 2008 prohibits several categories of US military assistance to such governments, effective October 1, 2010, unless the president invokes a national interest waiver.
"Americans don’t want their tax money used to put weapons into the hands of children," said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. "Cutting off US military assistance to countries using child soldiers should make their governments think twice about exploiting children for warfare."
The new trafficking report cited Burma, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen for using child soldiers in their armed forces or supporting allied militias that use child soldiers. Except for Burma, each of these countries has received US military assistance in recent years, usually in the form of military training.
The Child Soldiers Prevention Act was adopted by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008. It prohibits foreign military financing, military training, and several other categories of US military assistance to governments using child soldiers, based on the findings of the Trafficking in Persons report.