Pakistan resents inclusion in State Department's 'child soldiers' list; asks US to review

Pakistan has dismissed as “a factual error and lack of understanding” its inclusion in the Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA) list by the United States and urged Washington to review the “baseless assertions” made against the country in the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, 2021

Jul 05, 2021
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Child soldiers

Pakistan has dismissed as “a factual error and lack of understanding” its inclusion in the Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA) list by the United States and urged Washington to review the “baseless assertions” made against the country in the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, 2021.

The US added Pakistan and Turkey to the CSPA list last week. The designation could lead to strict sanctions on military assistance for the listed countries and stand in the way of their participation in peacekeeping programs.

The US Child Soldiers Prevention Act requires publication in the annual TIP report of a list of foreign governments that have recruited or used child soldiers during the previous year (April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021). The entities reviewed for this designation include armed forces, police, other security forces and government-supported armed groups.

The 2021 CSPA list includes the governments of the following countries: Afghanistan, Burma, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Turkey, Venezuela and Yemen.

Expressing displeasure on the US move, the Pakistan Foreign Office in a statement said no state institution was consulted by the US before the publication of the report. “Nor were any details provided of the basis on which the conclusion was reached,” it added.

The statement emphasized that Pakistan neither supported any non-state armed group nor any entity recruiting or using child soldiers, saying “Pakistan’s efforts in fighting non-state armed groups including terrorist entities are well-recognized.”

It maintained that Pakistan was committed to fighting “this scourge — both at the national and international levels”.

“We have taken a range of legislative and administrative actions in that regard during the last one year, including approval of rules under the domestic Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants Acts; National Action Plan 2021-25 prepared jointly by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); and enhancement of capacity-building and inter-agency cooperation of law-enforcement agencies involved in anti-human smuggling,” the press release added.

It also highlighted that Pakistan had been voluntarily submitting information for the TIP report to the US government since 2007 and had actively worked on implementing practicable recommendations of these reports.

"Pakistan calls upon the authorities concerned in the United States to review the baseless assertions made in the TIP report, especially concerning the unwarranted inclusion of Pakistan in the 'CSPA List'," the FO said, according to Dawn.

“Pakistan also expects the sharing of 'credible information' on cases involving Trafficking in Persons as well as on allegations of support to armed groups using child soldiers.”

The CSPA prohibits listed governments in the following US programs: International Military Education and Training, Foreign Military Financing, Excess Defence Articles, and Peacekeeping Operations. Some programs undertaken under the Peacekeeping Operations authority are exempted.

The CSPA also prohibits the issuance of licenses for direct commercial sales of military equipment to such governments.

(SAM)

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