Obama Waives Sanctions On Countries That Recruit Child Soldiers

Obama Waives Sanctions On Countries That Recruit Child Soldiers

We were all inspired last week by the eloquent words of American president Barack Obama:

“When a little boy is kidnapped, turned into a child soldier, forced to kill or be killed — that’s slavery,” he declared in his speech at the Clinton Global Initiative. “It is barbaric, and it is evil, and it has no place in a civilized world. Now, as a nation, we’ve long rejected such cruelty.”

 

For those who support the abolition of modern day slavery, it is a real encouragement to see the media and people in influential positions raise their voice in support of the cause. The ripple effect can be huge. When Obama announced an executive order strengthening protection’s against trafficking of persons in federal contracts, we were all encouraged. For this reason it comes as quite a shock to discover that for every year since Obama has been in office, he has waived sanctions on countries that recruit child soldiers.

The bi-partisan “child-soldiers law” was signed by president Bush in 2008. It prohibits “U.S. military education and training, foreign military financing, and other defense-related assistance to countries that actively recruit troops under the age of 18.” Obama waived the law in 2010, the first year it was to take effect. He has waived it every year since.

Josh Brogin writes in his blog

“Human rights advocates¬† [have seen] the waivers as harmful to the goal of using U.S. influence to urge countries that receive military assistance to move away from using child soldiers and contradictory to the rhetoric Obama used in his speech.

 

He cites Jesse Eaves, senior policy advisor for child protection at World Vision,

 

“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.”

 

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Standing against modern day slavery is an issue that transcends party politics. All leaders of every political party in every nation must have their feet held to the fire. Words are important: leaders must speak out against trafficking. But even more important than words are actions—and when our actions contradict what we say, this should not go unchallenged.

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Obama Waives Sanctions
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