Friday, October 29, 2010

US Will Exempt 4 Countries From The Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008

At least Gaza is not included in those four, but still--it cannot be setting a good precedent. After all, we expect the UN to turn a blind eye to terrorism and the abuse of children brainwashed into becoming terrorists.

But we expect better from the US.
At least we used to.

Now the US is giving a pass to countries using child soldiers:
In a decision critics say has undermined a powerful new law, the United States has decided to turn a blind eye to four countries that use child soldiers in their armed forces.
In a brief and little-noticed announcement on Monday, the White House said Barack Obama, the president, had decided to exempt Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sudan and Yemen from the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008, which prohibits funding for foreign governments' militaries if they recruit or use child soldiers.
On Thursday, Foreign Policy magazine posted  online a nine-page memo from Obama to Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, that linked the continuation of funding to US counterterrorism efforts in some of those countries.
"Everyone’s gotten a pass, and Obama has really completely undercut the law and its intent," Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, told the New York Times newspaper.
Of the six countries identified by the state department as having used child soldiers in 2009, only Somalia and Myanmar were not granted an exemption. 
In the case of Yemen, the justification for continuing US aid to countries that use children soldiers is Al Qaeda. Continued aid to Chad is based on the claim that it "would hinder the United States government's effort to reinforce positive trends" and that Chad also plays a role in anti-terrorism efforts. The excuse in the case of the Sudan is that withholding funding would "preclude the ability to deliver critical training necessary to professionalize the SPLA (Sudan People's Liberation Army)."

About Gaza, maybe there is no mention because the use of children in terrorism attacks is not a structured, or because we usually associate them as being used by Hamas as human shields as opposed to soldiers.

Then again, the countries in question above are using children in their teens--not so Hamas:

In 2006 the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers came out with a paper: Occupied Palestinian Territories--Palestinian children and Hamas
Hamas does not systematically recruit children for military activities. However, there have been a number of serious incidents where children were involved in operations carried out by its military wing. At its most extreme, children have been recruited for suicide operations, although there have been no reports of this practice since 2004. However, several 16 and 17 year olds, nearly always male, have continued to take part in armed attacks on settlements and clashes with Israeli forces. In 2004 Defence for Children International (DCI-Palestine) documented 22 incidents where under-18s were killed as a result of their involvement in militant actions. Of these, one was claimed by Hamas, involving a raid on a settlement by a group in which a 17 year old from Shaja'iyya in Gaza was killed. Two incidents were attributed to Hamas in 2003: one involving a 16 year old who attempted to infiltrate a settlement in Gaza and the other a 17 year old killed in a gun battle in Jenin. Also in 2004 Gaza’s Mezan Center for Human Rights (Mezan) documented seven deaths of minors as a result of involvement in militant actions. This included two separate incidents claimed by Hamas where minors of 16 and 17 were killed in clashes with Israeli forces.
It is bad enough that Obama signed a waiver permitting the transfer of US funds to the Abbas's Palestinian Authority, while relaxing a requirement in the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, requiring the US to promote “the cessation of terrorism and incitement in institutions and territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority"--now Obama has found a new law to relax.

It would be one thing if Obama was perceived as actually being serious about the war on terrorism. But considering the premature withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan and his refusal to tackle the issue of terrorism head on, his cutting corners just gives the impression of his being wishy washy, an impression supported by his failure in the Middle East in general and with Iran in particular.

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