Cablegate: Child Soldiers Prevention Act Demarche Points

DE RUEHBUL #0637/01 0520737
P 210737Z FEB 10



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. A. 09 STATE 3559
B. B. 09 STATE 121328

1. (U) SUMMARY: Following the request (Ref B) to inform our
host government of the provisions of the Child Soldier
Prevention Act (CSPA) and its impending implementation,
Embassy Kabul delivered demarche points to the Ministry of
Interior (MOI) and the Ministry of Defense (MOD) to review
the progress they are making on demobilization and
reintegration activities. Based on these discussions and on
further information from NATO Training Mission Afghanistan
(NTM-A), Embassy Kabul is persuaded of the soundness of ANA
and ANP vetting and recruitment procedures and strongly
recommends that Afghanistan not be placed on the CSPA
sanctions list that accompanies the 2010 TIP report. End

2. (U) On February 1, Pol and Pol Miloffs meet with Major
General Farahi, Director for Counter-Terrorism, MOI and
Brigadier General Ghulam Jan, Director of Recruitment, MOI,
in charge of recruiting for the ANP; and on February 16 with
Brigadier General Ibrahim, Deputy Chief of Recruiting, MOD,
in charge of recruiting for the ANA. As Post reported in Ref
A, Embassy Kabul recognizes that GIROA does not recruit child
combatants. The ANA and the ANP, working in concert with
NTM-A actively vet recruits and reject underage applicants.
(NOTE: Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan
(CSTC-A) remains embedded in NTM-A. End note.) Both the MOI
and the MOD value the USG's technical assistance in improving
their recruitment and vetting procedures, and emphasized
their commitment to ensuring that underage applicants are not
permitted into the ANP or ANA.

Strict Guidelines

3. (SBU) MOI sits on two Inter-Ministerial Commissions
devoted to Child Protection Issues. They hold monthly
meetings, and send monthly monitoring reports to the
President documenting recruitment activities; we were invited
to attend these meetings. Since BG Ghulum Jan,s appointment
four years ago as Director of Recruitment, he has implemented
rigorous recruiting procedures. He praised the U.S. training
course he attended, drawing on this training to draft solid
recruitment procedures for the ANP. Recruits are assessed on
the following items: age (18-34); citizenship; evidence of
physical or mental disability; and evidence of drug
addiction. Recruits receive a medical clearance and a
criminal background check on themselves and their family
members; and must provide two references, one of which should
be from a community elder, who will verify their age,
identity, and good citizenship. MOI's Administrative
Department handles hiring for service workers; all service
workers undergo the same procedures.

4. (SBU) MOD follows similar procedures for military and
service personnel with the same stringent guidelines,
including separate interviews with the applicants and their
families to determine their motivation in joining the armed
forces. Recruitment centers in all 34 provinces follow these
procedures. The MOD underscored that it follows Presidential
Decree 97 on recruitment, which set recruitment at ages
18-27. The MOD has responded to the recent pressure to
increase troop size in the ANA by raising its upper age limit
on new recruits to age 35. The ANA rejects on average one
percent of recruits monthly who fail the age screening. Per
Reftel A, Embassy Kabul remains confident that the ANA and
its subsets, including the Afghan National Army Air Corps
(ANAAC), and the ANP and its subsets including the Afghan
Border Police, Customs Police, Afghan Uniform Police (AUP),
Afghan National Civil Order of Police (ANCOP), Afghan Public
Protection Force (APPF), Counter-Narcotics Unit, the
Anti-Crime Unit, and the Afghan Police Protection Program
(AP3) have robust recruiting and vetting practices in place
against child soldiers.

Insurgent Use of Children

6. (SBU) The MOI believes that insurgent recruitment of
children remains a problem. They are especially concerned
about children being recruited as suicide bombers. MOI's
Counter-Terrorism Department and the National Directorate of
Security (NDS) actively investigate cases of child
insurgency. However, Embassy Kabul believes that sanctioning
GIROA as a result of insurgent use of child soldiers is
counterproductive, undermining progress on joint military

KABUL 00000637 002 OF 002

7. (SBU) Embassy Kabul reiterated to the ministries the
concern that children may be employed or exploited for a
variety of service personnel positions, including sex work,
particularly at the provincial level. We received assurances
that underage persons were neither recruited, hired, or
retained if previously hired, in service positions.

8. (U) COMMENT: Embassy Kabul supports the progress GIROA has
made on eliminating children from its ranks and from its
support functions. GIROA has done so during a protracted war
and under considerable international pressure to increase the
size of its armed forces. Further, given the highly
militarized nature of Afghan society, GIROA is showing
demonstrable commitment to preventing children from joining
its armed forces. We strongly urge that the Afghanistan is
not placed on the CSPA 2010 sanctions list that accompanies
the 2010 TIP report. End Comment.

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