State Dept employees protest exclusion of violators from child soldiers list

State Dept. officials accuse Tillerson of violating law: report

Approximately 12 State Department officials accused Tillerson of violating the law, which is meant to prevent foreign militaries from enlisting children, Reuters reported, citing global government documents.

Per the Reuters report, Tillerson violated the Child Soldiers Prevention Act when he opted to remove Iraq, Myanmar, and Afghanistan from an American list of offending countries.

Passed in 2008, the child soldiers law prohibits the USA government from sending arms or supplies to foreign countries that recruit people under the age of 18 to who "takes a direct part in hostilities as a member of governmental armed forces". It was sent to Brian Hook - a top aide to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson - through an internal dissent channel within the department.

"The dissenting USA officials stressed that Tillerson's decision to exclude Iraq, Afghanistan, and Myanmar went a step further than the Obama administration's waiver policy by contravening the law and effectively easing pressure on the countries to eradicate the use of child soldiers", Reuters reports.

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CNN reached out to the State Department for comment but has not yet received a response.

"Beyond contravening US law, this decision risks marring the credibility of a broad range of State Department reports and analyses and has weakened one of the USA government's primary diplomatic tools to deter governmental armed forces and government-supported armed groups from recruiting and using children in combat and support roles around the world", the officials wrote in their July 28 memo.

As of June, the US trafficking report list includes the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Mali, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. The officials also criticized Tillerson for rejecting recommendations from senior staff that Afghanistan be added to the list. "While presidential waivers by the Obama administration undermined the effectiveness of the law, the list itself was generally accurate and fact-based", a Human Rights Watch blog post reads. Representatives Tillerson explain his actions by a desire to send USA aid to these countries. Tillerson's decision to leave Iraq, Afghanistan, and Myanmar off the list effectively made it easier for America to help those nations' military efforts.

While the leaked memo is the first piece of evidence that State Department officials are engaged in a "revolt" against Tillerson's moves to undercut the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, human rights groups have always been publicly raising alarm about the Secretary of State's actions.



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