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    An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier stands guard near the Kandahar governor guest house building where a bomb blast killed mainly government officials or diplomats from the United Arab Emirates, in Kandahar, Afghanistan January 11, 2017

    US Watchdog Asks Pentagon to Declassify Report on Afghan Child Sex Abuse

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    On Tuesday a US government oversight agency asked the Defense Department to declassify a report alleging that Afghan security forces had sexually abused children.

    The office of Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko sent a quarterly report to the Pentagon and Congress that not only discussed alleged abuses but considered "the extent to which the US holds Afghan security forces accountable" for those alleged actions. 

    According to SIGAR the classified section deals with violations of "Leahy law," a  Foreign Assistance Act provision prohibiting the security forces of a foreign country guilty of "gross" human rights violations from receiving aid from the US.

    SIGAR wrote "Afghan officials remain complicit, especially in the sexual exploitation and recruitment of children by Afghan security forces."

    According to an agency statement, the classified portion "concerned allegations of sexual abuse of children by members of the Afghan security forces, and discusses the extent to which the US holds Afghan security forces accountable. SIGAR has requested that DOD declassify the report so that it can be released to the public," Military.com reported.

    There have been incidents in the past where US troops received disciplinary action for confronting Afghan police and army officials who were sexually abusing children.

    One incident saw Army Special Forces Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland on the brink of being discharged after admitting he beat up an Afghan police commander who allegedly sexually abused a young boy in 2011 while deployed in Kunduz province. According to Martland, the boy’s mother was beaten for seeking the help of US soldiers.

    Special Forces Capt. Dan Quinn helped Martland confront the commander while they were deployed in the Kunduz province and ended up leaving the US Army, while Martland claimed he was being forced to retire from service because of his involvement.

    Martland’s expulsion was put on hold after House Armed Services Committee chair Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) placed a phone call on his behalf to John McHugh, who was Army Secretary at the time.

    "Out of respect for Chairman Thornberry's continued strong support for our military, and his personal appeal, Secretary McHugh has agreed to postpone Sgt. First Class Martland's discharge from the Army for 60 days to allow him to file an appeal with the Army Board for the Correction of Military Records," the service said in a statement.

    The decision to discharge Martland was eventually be reversed in April 2016.

    Annual human rights reports from the US State Department consistently list child sex abuse as a serious problem in Afghanistan, with a 2014 report saying "there were reports security officials and those connected to the ANP [Afghan National Police] raped children with impunity," and that often the abusers are not arrested.

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    Tags:
    classified information, classified documents, child sexual abuse, US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), Defense Department, Pentagon, Afghan National Army (ANA), US Special Forces, Green Berets, Afghanistan, United States
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