A group of U.S. State Department officials have accused Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of violating a federal law designed to stop foreign militaries from enlisting child soldiers, according to internal government documents reviewed by Reuters.
According to the agency, a confidential State Department stated Tillerson violated the Child Soldiers Prevention Act when he decided in June to exclude Iraq, Myanmar, and Afghanistan from a U.S. list of offenders in the use of child soldiers. Tillerson took this step despite the department publicly acknowledging that children were being conscripted in those countries.
“Beyond contravening U.S. law, this decision risks marring the credibility of a broad range of State Department reports and analyses and has weakened one of the U.S. government’s primary diplomatic tools to deter governmental armed forces and government-supported armed groups from recruiting and using children in combat and support roles around the world,” the government document stated.
According to Reuters, excluding the countries off the annual list makes it easier to provide them with U.S. military assistance.
“Iraq and Afghanistan are close allies in the fight against Islamist militants, while Myanmar is an emerging ally to offset China’s influence in Southeast Asia,” Reuters said.