On Monday, the Obama administration waived sections of a law meant to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers in Africa, paving the way for new military cooperation with four countries with poor human rights records -- despite their use of underage troops.
looking the other way
might come in handy
with armies that
"I hereby determine that it is in the national interest of the United States to waive the application to Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and Yemen of the prohibition in section 404(a) of the [Child Service Prevention Act]," President
Obama wrote in a memorandum to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In 2008, President George W. Bush signed the law, which
prohibits U.S. military education and training, foreign military financing,
and other defense-related assistance to countries that actively recruit troops
under the age of 18. Countries are designated as violators if the State
Department's annual Trafficking in Persons report identifies them as recruiting child
The original bill was
actually sponsored by then Senator, now Vice President Joseph Biden. The only countries where the restrictions under this law are still in place are now Burma and Somalia.
The only reason provided in the memorandum was that Obama determined it was in the "national interest" to waive the law for those four countries.