U.S. President Barack Obama issued a new executive order to fight human trafficking. And in his speech at the Clinton Global Initiative said, “When a little boy is kidnapped, turned into a child soldier, forced to kill or be killed — that’s slavery.”
But for the third year in a row, Obama has waived almost all U.S. sanctions that would punish certain countries that use child soldiers. Penalties under the Child Soldiers Protection Act of 2008 were waived for Libya, South Sudan, and Yemen, and partially waived for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Waived penalties were put in place by Congress to prevent U.S. arms sales to countries determined by the State Department to be the worst abusers of child soldiers in their militaries.
“After such a strong statement against the exploitation of children, it seems bizarre that Obama would give a pass to countries using children in their armed forces and using U.S. tax money to do that,” said Jesse Eaves, the senior policy advisor for child protection at World Vision. “The intent in this law was to use this waiver authority only in extreme circumstances, yet this has become an annual thing and this has become the default of this administration,” Eaves said.
Obama first waived the sanctions in 2010, the first year they were to go into effect, and again in 2011. Arguments for giving waivers were for security-related reasons and to give violator countries time to show progress.
Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) called the decision an “assault on human dignity,” and said, “Good citizens of this country who do not want to be complicit in this grave human rights abuse must challenge this administration.”
Learn more at Josh Rogin’s Foreign Policy blog article: Obama waives sanctions on countries that use child soldiers.