The US Defense Department sought to prevent the publication of an independent study highlighting child sexual abuse crimes among Afghan soldiers and police officers, Stars and Stripes reported Sunday.
Congress initially requested a review of potential crimes by Afghan security personnel in 2015. The study, carried out by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), has been sent to lawmakers but remains classified. It is only despite the machinations of the US military that Congress is seeing the report at all: the Defense Department attempted to block the report from going anywhere, the military newspaper said.
“It’s fair to say there was an effort to discourage the investigation,” a US Senate staffer told Stripes. The Pentagon has denied the allegations.
Afghan security officials have a reputation for recruiting young boys into their ranks, sometimes for the purposes of fornication, the New York Times reported in September 2015.
US troops have been explicitly ordered not to tell superiors about pedophiles among the police and army ranks who were abusing children, according to the Times. “The reason we were here is because we heard the terrible things the Taliban were doing to people, how they were taking away human rights,” said Dan Quinn, a former Special Forces captain who punched a US-backed paramilitary commander who kept a boy chained to his bed. “We were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than what the Taliban did,” the veteran said.
The Army removed Quinn from Afghanistan after the beating, since he had disobeyed the policy to ignore child abuse. He later resigned.
“At night we can hear them [the boys] screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” Gregory Buckler Sr. said his son, Marine Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley, Jr. told him during their last conversation before the Marine was killed in 2012. “My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.”
Under the Leahy laws, foreign security force members are ineligible to receive US aid when they are found to have committed gross human rights violations.
Bacha bazi is a form of pederasty that has roots in Central Asia, where boys are forced to dress up as women and dance in front of older men. In some cases, the practice has been tied to prostitution and child sex trafficking.