Thirty Congolese women were held in a “dungeon” on the border of Conga and Angola and systematically raped by uniformed men over a period of weeks earlier this month, say U.N. officials. They were part of a group of 150 refugees, 3 of whom were killed (one, a woman who died from the physical trauma of repeated rape). Survivors were released on the Congolese side of the border, naked and with no belongings.
looking the other way
might come in handy
with armies that
On Monday, the Obama administration waived sections of a law meant to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers in Africa, paving the way for new military cooperation with four countries with poor human rights records — despite their use of underage troops.
“I hereby determine that it is in the national interest of the United States to waive the application to Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and Yemen of the prohibition in section 404(a) of the [Child Service Prevention Act],” President
Obama wrote in a memorandum to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In 2008, President George W. Bush signed the law, which
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. Countries are designated as violators if the State
Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons report identifies them as recruiting child
The original bill was
actually sponsored by then Senator, now Vice President Joseph Biden. The only countries where the restrictions under this law are still in place are now Burma and Somalia.
The only reason provided in the memorandum was that Obama determined it was in the “national interest” to waive the law for those four countries.