Letter regarding waivers to the Child Soldiers Prevention Act
City Bar President Debra L. Raskin sent a letter to President Obama, on behalf of the African Affairs Committee, urging him to reverse his decision to provide unconditioned military assistance to governments that recruit and use child soldiers in contravention of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 (the CSPA). The purposes of the CSPA are to condemn the conscription, forced recruitment and use of children in armed forces, and to uphold international standards designed to end human rights abuses. The CSPA penalizes the recruitment and use of child soldiers in governmental and government-supported armed forces. The letter states that Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Nigeria have been granted full waivers from penalty, for a number of reasons, despite the fact that the use of child soldiers is still prevalent in each of these countries. In addition, the Administration has granted a partial waiver to South Sudan. According to the Committee, the partial waiver in place has not led to any improvement in the reduction of the use of child soldiers, yet South Sudan continues to receive millions of dollars in U.S. military assistance. The Committee recommends that the President condition military assistance to countries that use child soldiers on such countries not only signing action plans to eliminate the use of child soldiers, but also on demonstrably implementing such plans in a manner that can be verified by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, to the satisfaction of the United States.