Critics said Obama’s stance was contrary to the Child Soldiers Prevention Act that took effect soon after he became president in 2009.
The legislation prohibits certain forms of US military aid for governments implicated in child soldier use.
“Yet every year, Obama has used his presidential authority to forgo the sanctions on most of the affected countries under the law’s ‘national interest’ waiver provision,” stated the Children’s Rights Division at the Human Rights Watch.
In four cases – the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, and Rwanda – Obama decided to waive sanctions to allow military training and peacekeeping support, but to prohibit other military aid like arms sales and military financing.
For example, withholding aid from DR Congo in previous years prompted its government to largely end its use of child soldiers. In the past, Obama allowed Somalia to buy nearly US$40 million of US arms, despite ongoing child recruitment.
Human Rights Watch argued sanctions did not go far enough in the case of South Sudan, where some 16 000 children hadbeen recruited by both government and opposition forces in the past three years alone.
The rights group said during Obama’s tenure in office, the number of governments using child soldiers had grown from six to ten.
“That’s a terrible legacy.”
–<strong> CAJ News</strong><em>