Defence Minister on Sexual Abuse of Afghan Boys

The latest, after this and this, on the delicate issue of how Canadian Forces personnel should deal with Afghan security forces raping young boys.

This, from Defence Minister Peter MacKay (PDF version of article available here via Milnet.ca):

“I can tell you as a former Crown prosecutor that any sexual abuse against children will not be tolerated. And Canadian soldiers have been given a very clear directive on this and the chain of command understand it very clearly …. We require that any wrongdoing that a Canadian soldier would see in Afghanistan or anywhere would be no less than the expectation that we would have in Canada — to do the right thing, to prevent, to pre-empt, to intervene.

Interesting, this bit in red – compare this to the Chief of Defence Staff’s letter to the editor on the same issue:

“While the responsibility for complying with their national and international legal obligations rests with the Afghans, I expect members of the Canadian Forces to bring breaches of the law by Afghan security forces to the attention of the appropriate authorities.

I feel quite strongly about the abuse of boys by anyone, much less Afghan police or soldiers who are supposed to be gaining the trust of the Afghan people.

That said, given what the Minister said in red underlined above, and the delicacy of the issue and the relationship between Canadian troops and Afghans they are mentoring – this sums it up well:

“Try pressuring one of your friends to stop doing something they hide but you know they do; then try to get a Police Officer to accost them about it…”

I hope the Minister and the rest of the Government will stand 100% behind any soldier intervening if it leads to a, shall we say,  less-than-savoury-or-harmonious exchange with Afghan security forces.