Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is facing allegations that he violated the Child Soldiers Prevention Act over the summer by deliberately excluding multiple nations from the list of offenders, a move done to allow the US to keep providing military aid to them.
The State Department had already publicly confirmed that all three nations, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Myanmar, were in violation of the act and were conscripting children into their assorted military conflicts, but Tillerson still chose to remove them from the list.
The violation of the law is being pushed by a number of State Department officials, who noted it was a unanimous recommendation to include the nations, warning that excluding them despite plain violations not only violates US law but harmed the credibility of the State Department on such reports.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert defended Tillerson, however, saying the US doesn’t like the use of child soldiers, but believes that removing certain violators from the list is “technically” legal as far as Tillerson is concerned.
Tillerson’s advisers had previously claimed the three nations were making “sincere” efforts to reduce their use of child soldiers. They added that Tillerson has “discretion” to interpret the law as he sees fit.
The White House is allowed under the law to exempt nations included on the list from aid bans, but the comments offer no such provision for deliberately making the list inaccurate.