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Afghan Pedophiles Get Free Pass From U.S. Military, Report Says

Sigar said it had opened an investigation into bacha bazi at the request of Congress and in response to a 2015 New York Times article that described the practice as “rampant.” The article said that American soldiers who complained had their careers ruined by their superiors, who had encouraged them to ignore the practice.

“DOD and State only began efforts to address this issue after it was raised by The New York Times,” said John F. Sopko, the special inspector general. “And even after that story, the sufficiency of policies they’ve put in place and the resources they’ve committed seem questionable. When Congress passed the Leahy laws they prioritized the issue of gross human rights violations. As our report clearly shows, both agencies failed to live up to that task.”

A former Special Forces officer, Capt. Dan Quinn, who beat up an Afghan commander for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave, said at the time that he had been relieved of his command as a result. “We were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did,” said Captain Quinn, who has left the military.

Sgt. First Class Charles Martland, a highly decorated Green Beret, was forced out of the military after beating up an Afghan local police commander in Kunduz who was a child rapist. Sergeant Martland became incensed after the Afghan commander abducted the boy, raped him, then beat up the boy’s mother when she tried to rescue him. Congressional inquiries apparently led to Sergeant Martland’s reinstatement.

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Gregory Buckley Sr., whose son Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. was killed after complaining that an Afghan commander had a retinue of “bacha bazi” boys. Credit Kirsten Luce for The New York Times

The Times article also cited the suspicious death of Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr., a United States Marine who was killed at a checkpoint where he was stationed with a notorious commander who had a retinue of bacha bazi boys. Corporal Buckley had complained about that commander and was killed, along with two other Marines, by one of the commander’s boys.

The Sigar report made no mention of the cases of Corporal Buckley, Captain Quinn or Sergeant Martland, and it appeared to have interviewed only three unnamed American soldiers who reported being aware of the practice, which many soldiers and Afghan officials have told journalists they know to be widespread.

As of Aug. 12, 2016, the Defense Department was investigating 75 instances of gross human rights violations, seven involving child sexual assault, but even Defense Department officials acknowledged that that was a small portion of the total, the Sigar report said.

Under the Leahy Law, United States military aid funds must be cut off to any foreign military unit implicated in gross human rights violations, which includes the practice of bacha bazi, with its enslavement and rape of young boys. But another provision of American law, called the “notwithstanding clause,” says that Afghan military aid should be available “notwithstanding any other provision of law.”

The Sigar report said that the “notwithstanding clause” had been used repeatedly to evade cutting off military aid to Afghan units.

“DOD’s continuing to provide assistance to units for which the department has credible information of a gross violation of human rights undermines efforts by U.S. government officials to engage with the Afghan government on the importance of respect for human rights and rule of law,” the report said. But it also said no evidence had been found that American soldiers were ordered to look the other way as a matter of policy, or that their commanders condoned the bacha bazi practice.

American military commanders in Afghanistan have repeatedly denied that there was any policy to condone child sexual abuse.

The Sigar report recommended restricting the use of that “notwithstanding clause” to evade the provisions of the Leahy Law, and a draft defense appropriations bill supports that recommendation.

The practice is so widespread that at least one of the 2014 Afghan presidential candidates was a onetime C.I.A.-backed warlord, Gul Agha Shirzai, who was widely accused of being a pedophile who keeps bacha bazi boys.

President Ashraf Ghani vowed to end the practice in a 2015 speech, but there have been few, if any, prosecutions by the Afghan authorities for bacha bazi practices. Mr. Shirzai is now the minister of border and tribal affairs in Mr. Ghani’s government.

Source: NYT > World

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