To evaluate the implementation of the DoD Leahy Law regarding child sexual abuse as it applies to DoD interaction with, and Title 10 support of, the Afghan Security Ministries and the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).
Members of Congress expressed concerns regarding allegations of child sexual abuse in Afghanistan, particularly against young boys by ANDSF personnel. In response, we conducted this evaluation to address the following questions:
1. What laws, regulations, directives, standards, or other guidance, including international laws, treaties, or agreements, exist that impact DoD policy related
to allegations of child sexual abuse involving ANDSF personnel; the obligation of DoD‑affiliated personnel to report suspected child sexual abuse by Afghan government officials; and DoD involvement in responding to such reports or allegations?
- We identify in this report the laws, regulations, and guidance impacting DoD policy.
2. Is there, or was there, any DoD guidance, informal or otherwise, to discourage reporting by DoD-affiliated personnel?
- We identify in this report the laws, that discouraged DoD-affiliated personnel from reporting incidents of child sexual abuse.
- In some cases, personnel we interviewed explained that they, or someone whom they knew, were told informally that nothing could be done about child sexual abuse because of November 16, 2017 Afghanistan’s status as a sovereign nation, that it was not a priority issue for the command, or that it was best to let the local police handle it.
3. What training has been conducted or planned for DoD personnel on identifying and responding to alleged child sexual abuse, or the obligation to report suspected violations?
- The DoD did not conduct training for personnel deployed or deploying to Afghanistan before 2015 on identifying, responding to, or reporting suspected instances of child sexual abuse. In September 2015, the Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) prepared training slides titled “Mandatory Reporting of Suspected Human Rights Abuses,” for use in theater. This training states that Resolute Support (RS) and USFOR-A personnel are required to report any suspected human-rights abuses, including suspected child sexual abuse. USFOR-A personnel conducted such training for DoD personnel deployed to Afghanistan beginning in late 2015.
- The DoD also provides Cultural Awareness Training, Combating Trafficking in Persons Training, and Sexual Assault Prevention Training to personnel deploying to or assigned in Afghanistan. However, this training does not specifically instruct U.S. personnel to report allegations of child sexual abuse.
4. How many cases of child sexual abuse alleged against Afghan government officials have been reported to U.S. or Coalition Forces Commands, the Service Inspectors General, or the DoD Office of Inspector General? When were such reports made? What actions were taken and by whom?
- Between 2010 and 2016, we identified 16 allegations of child sexual abuse involving Afghan government officials that were reported by DoD and Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) personnel to the DoD. However, we could not confirm that the 16 allegations represented the total number reported to U.S. or Coalition Forces Commands in Afghanistan due to inconsistent DoD reporting procedures and an overall lack of unified guidance on reporting and record keeping relating to child sexual abuse. See the response to question 4 in the classified appendix D for additional information on these 16 allegations.
5. How many cases of alleged child sexual abuse have been reported to the Afghan government by DoD affiliated personnel? When were such reports made? What knowledge does the DoD have of action taken by the Afghan government?
- We identified that 11 of the 16 allegations reported to the DoD between 2010 and 2016 were reported to officials of the GIRoA by DoD affiliated personnel.
- See the classified appendix for additional information.
6 and 7. What legal authority do U.S. Forces in Afghanistan have to intervene in cases in Afghanistan where they observe or suspect child sexual abuse by ANDSF personnel? Are U.S. Forces authorized to use force to stop instances where they witness child sexual abuse by ANDSF personnel?
Under the DoD Law of War Program, and consistent with bilateral and international agreements governing U.S. operations in Afghanistan, U.S. Forces who observe a member of the ANDSF sexually abusing a child are not prohibited from intervening and using reasonable force as may be necessary to prevent or stop such sexual abuse. However, U.S. Forces are under no obligation to intervene.
8. What authority do DoD personnel have on bases in Afghanistan to control who can enter the bases, either Afghan Security Force personnel or Afghan civilians?
- DoD personnel have the authority to control access to “Agreed Facilities and Areas,” which are identified in the “Status of NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] Forces and NATO Personnel Conducting Mutually Agreed NATO‑Led Activities in Afghanistan” and the “Security and Defense Cooperation Agreement between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.” These agreements authorize NATO or U.S. Forces to control entry into agreed facilities and areas provided for their respective exclusive use and to coordinate entry with Afghan authorities at joint-use agreed facilities and areas, for the purposes of safety and security.
9. What DoD guidance exists for U.S. military personnel regarding intervention and use of force when witnessing child sexual abuse in Afghanistan and what related training is provided?
- This question is partially answered in response to questions 6 and 7. Additional information related to this question can be found in the classified appendix to this report.