The Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson has been recently accused by the members of his very own department for allowing foreign militaries to use child soldiers without any consequences.
The State Department now keeps a list of nations who use children as soldiers.
In an “opposition” memo that was obtained by the news sources, the State Department officials had accused Tillerson of violating the Child Soldiers Prevention Act by excluding countries like Iraq, Myanmar, and Afghanistan in June this year, even though the department had acknowledged that these countries used child soldiers.
The child soldier’s law was essentially passed in 2008, and it prohibits the countries on the list from receiving aids, training, and weapons from the United States.
The nations on this list can further receive waivers that are based on situations in the “national interest” of the U.S. That’s exactly what had happened in 2016, when the Obama administration had given waivers to countries like Iraq, Myanmar, along with Nigeria and Somalia.
Former President Obama was criticized by the human rights organizations for being too free with these waivers, and by not regulating the law as it was supposed to be regulated.
The dissenting officials, with greater insight and knowledge on the topic, say that sidestepping the law altogether is even a step further than the former president’s (Obama’s) act of granting waivers.
“Human Rights Watch frequently criticized President Barack Obama for giving too many countries waivers, but the law has made a real difference,” Jo Becker, the director for the Human Rights Watch children’s rights division had said.
The Heads of the State Department’s regional bureaus have been overseeing the Middle Eastern and Asian embassies, who have been unanimously recommended to be included on the list, according to documents.
Brian Hook, one of those Tillerson’s advisers, said that it is very necessary to distinguish between the governments “making little or no effort to correct their child soldier violations … and those which are making sincere — if as yet incomplete — efforts.”
Because the executive branch of the government has wider latitude in the matters of foreign policy, there is not likely to be any legal repercussion to Tillerson’s decisions. The child soldier’s law appears to give the Secretary of State the discretion to remove these nations from the list.