U.S. sanctions five nations against use of child soldiers
Published: Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 02:10
Military assistance to Rwanda is being withdrawn as part of United States’ sanctions targeting the use of child soldiers, the State Department announced Thursday.
The State Department cited the sanctions are derived from Rwandan rebel group M23’s use of child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Other countries facing the brunt of sanctions include Syria, Myanmar and Sudan, though it is unclear whether those nations currently receive military aid. Other countries known to employ minors in their military forces were exempt from sanctions with the State Department claiming exemptions “would be in the national interest of the United States.”
Rwanda was quick to voice its surprise over sanctions Friday while denying its use of child soldiers. Military spokesman Joseph Nzabamwita said Rwanda should not be held accountable for the actions of a rebel group, as the Rwandan military does not use children as soldiers and the decision to impose sanctions are not based on evidence or facts.
As a long-term partner of the Rwanda Defense Forces, the United States has ample evidence that our forces have never tolerated the use of children in combat,” Nzabamwita said.