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Pentagon watchdog to research Afghan sexual abuse claims

Pentagon watchdog to research Afghan sexual abuse claims
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The Pentagon’s inspector general plans to research allegations the U.S. military encouraged troops to ignore their Afghan allies' sexual abuse of children, and that troops were punished when they did report the abuse.

“We plan to begin our research on this subject immediately,” a Tuesday memo says. “The purpose of our research is to gather and review information, identify criteria and analyze previous reporting as a basis for potential future work.”

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Last month, The New York Times reported on an alleged policy that kept U.S. troops from reporting when Afghan police and militia officials sexually assaulted children in a practice known as "bacha bazi" — or "boy play."

The allegations drew swift condemnation from lawmakers, who used described the practice as “savage.”

Pentagon officials have repeatedly denied that any such policy exists. Earlier this month, Gen. John CampbellJohn Bayard Taylor CampbellBritish authorities rule fatal stabbings an act of terror Trump courts new controversy with travel ban expansion High stakes in Nigeria's elections for impoverished citizenry — and US interests MORE, the commander in charge of the U.S.-led NATO coalition in Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Service Committee that the U.S. has had a policy since at least 2011 saying human rights abuses should be reported up the chain of command.

Even before 2011, he said, there was no policy against reporting abuses.

The inspector general’s research will seek to answer whether there was any guidance, informal or otherwise, to discourage reporting the abuse, according to the memo.

It will also look at what laws or other guidance exist on allegations of child sexual abuse by Afghans and the obligation of Pentagon personnel to report it to the Afghan government.

The inspector general will also research how many cases of child sex abuse have been reported to Pentagon officials and to the Afghan government, and what actions were taken in response.