More on Child Exploitation

An American writer has picked up coverage of Canada’s back-and-forth on the alleged sexual abuse of kids by Afghan security forces (you’ve seen my take here, here, here and here).

One snippet from another piece highlighted in the commentary points out how deeply ingrained the problem is, how difficult it will be to deal with, and how many factors have to be affected to see change:

“When Amruddin’s 13-year-old daughter was kidnapped in Sar-i-pul province last year, he had to pay for the local police officer’s fuel in order to get the officer to visit the café where she had last been seen. The officer was no help. When Amruddin — who, like most poor farmers in Afghanistan, only has one name — finally found his daughter a week later, she identified the police officer as one of her eight rapists. Three other suspects worked for the village strongman. When their case came to the local prosecutor, he dismissed it, saying there wasn’t enough evidence. More likely, says Amruddin, there wasn’t enough of a bribe. Amruddin says that in order to raise enough money for all the necessary bribes, he sold his two other daughters, ages 9 and 11, for $5,000. “I had to sell them in order to pursue this case,” he says. “What else can I do? I am not a pimp, a coward, to let these men get away with what they did. I will sell all of my children if that is what it takes to get justice.” “

Yikes…

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.

More on a Delicate, but Important Subject

The latest on how the Canadian Forces should deal with the issue of alleged rape of young boys by Afghan security forces.

Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff has signed a letter to the editor regarding recent coverage of the issue – here it is, for the record:

“The Canadian Forces are made up of some of the most professional and courageous troops in the world, and Canadians have every reason to be proud of their hard work and efforts in protecting Afghans.

I wish to make it clear that, as the Chief of the Defence Staff, I hold myself and all members of the armed forces to the highest standard of professional conduct. Indeed, the legitimacy of the Canadian military derives from its embodiment of the values, beliefs and laws of the nation we defend. We conduct our operations in compliance with our international legal obligations.

Equally, we expect members of Afghanistan’s security forces to meet their legal obligations, both national and international. Canada’s military and police personnel in Afghanistan are mentoring their Afghan counterparts about the importance of professional conduct, including compliance with the rule of law.

Only by demonstrating the highest standards of conduct will the Afghan security forces earn the trust of the Afghan people. 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.

Once the Board of Inquiry referred to by Mr. Pugliese is completed, its findings and recommendations will be thoroughly reviewed and appropriate action taken.
I have every confidence that the members of the Canadian Forces, in the face of a very challenging security environment, are performing their very best to uphold our values.

General W.J. Natynczyk
Chief of the Defence Staff”