Afghan Military Units Accused of Child Rape Receive U.S. Aid

By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

KABUL, AfghanistanIn a report released on January 18, 2018, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction noted ‘gross human rights abuses’ by the Afghan military. Several of these included child sexual assault, though the full scope of the sexual abuse is unclear as a result of a lack of resources and access.

Of a total of 75 incidents recorded from 2010-2016 by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, “7 involved child sexual assault, 46 involved other gross violations of human rights, and 22 were classified at a level above Secret because of the sensitivity of the information or the sources and methods used to obtain the information.” However, the U.S. Military personnel reported 5,753 human rights violations for the same time span.

Afghan Military Units continue to receive U.S. Military Aid despite child sex abuse cases. Image courtesy of Ghulamullah Habibi.

The cases of child sexual abuse by members of the Afghan military frequently refer to widespread practice of bacha bazi (boy play), where underage boys are kept as sex slaves for Afghan commanders.

According to the Leahy Law, U.S. military aid cannot be given to foreign military involved in human rights violations. However, U.S. aid has continued to flow to the Afghan military despite the 5,753 reports and 75 confirmed incidents. Additionally, many of the U.S. servicemen have seen negative consequences (even death) as a result of reporting child rapes and sexual abuse.

How does the U.S. military evade the Leahy Law? There is a loophole called the “notwithstanding clause” that states the Afghan military should receive aid no matter what. In this manner, 14 Afghan units continued to be supported despite allegations of child rapes against them.

A U.S. Senate committee hopes that this report will be a step forward to closing the legal loophole.

For more information, please see:

The New York Times – Afghan Pedophiles Get Free Pass From U.S. Military, Report says – 23 January 2018

The Washington Examiner – Senate targets loophole Defense Department used to support Afghan forces accused of human rights abuses – 23 January 2018

The Washington Post – Pentagon and watchdog at odds over efforts to prevent sexual abuse of children by Afghan troops – 23 January 2018

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction – (U) Child Sexual Assault in Afghanistan: Implementation of the Leahy Laws and Reports of Assault by Afghan Security Forces – 18 January 2018

The Guardian – US military fails to tackle sexual abuse of children by Afghan allies, report finds – 24 January 2018 

Myanmar and Bangladesh Agree to Repatriation Timeline

By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar – With more than 740,000 Rohingya Muslims having fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh since October 2016, Bangladesh has been overwhelmed with refugees. An initial agreement between the two countries was signed in November of 2017, though an official implementation timeline was only recently established.

Image of Rohingya Refugee Camp. Photo Courtesy of Roger Arnold.

The agreement lays out that Myanmar will take 1500 Rohingya refugees back each week, with 300 per day and with all returning within two years. This begins on 23 January 2018.  However at this rate it will take closer to 10 years to repatriate all 740,000 refugees.   Bangladesh sees the goal of 300 persons each day as a starting point and hopes that the numbers will increase as time goes on. Bangladesh strives to send families back together as well as orphans and “children born out of unwarranted incidence.” This deal is only applicable to those who fled between the October 2016 violence and the latest round in 2017.

In preparation Myanmar plans to build two transport camps. One can accommodate up to 30,000 people.   Bangladesh will build 5.

As a result of the violence, 350 Rohingya villages burned down.   While Myanmar rebuilds, little attention is given to the Rakhine state. Myanmar’s foreign secretary U Myint Thu stated that there are plans to build new villages for the Rohingya. The plan is that “the returnees will build their homes by themselves.” It is a cash-for-work program in which the Myanmar government “will give them both money and jobs.”

The repatriation act is not without its critics. Little has been done to rectify the repression of Rohingya in Myanmar, and human rights activists are concerned that there can be no safe returns if grievances aren’t addressed. For a community leader in a Rohingya Refugee camp, the “first priority is, they have to grant us citizenship as Rohingya. Secondly, they have to give back our lands. Thirdly, our security must be ensured internationally. Otherwise, this is not good for us.” Restrictions on Rohingya movement have not been waived either.

The UN High Commission for Refugees encourages refugees to only return if they feel safe. The statement from the U.S. reads that the timeline was of less importance compared to the safety of the people. While the reparation is voluntary, most refugees say they will only return if their safety is assured, their homes rebuilt, and their land returned to them.

For more information, please see:

The BBC – Rohingya crisis: Bangladesh and Myanmar agree repatriation timeframe – 16 January 2018

Reuters – Bangladesh agrees with Myanmar to complete Rohingya return in two years – 16 January 2018

The Washington Post – Bangladesh, Myanmar aim to finish Rohingya return in 2 years – 16 January 2018

Syria Deeply: New Syria peace talks begin in Sochi, no cease-fire in Eastern Ghouta, and Turkey may extend Operation Olive Branch

Syria Deeply
Jan. 30th, 2018
This Week in Syria.

Welcome to Syria Deeply’s weekly summary of our coverage of the crisis in Syria.

Sochi talks: The Moscow-sponsored “Congress of the Syrian National Dialogue” began in the Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi on Monday. These are the first Syria negotiations to be held in Russia, though Moscow has previously led the trilateral talks in Astana.

U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura is attending the talks, where he is expected to lead a new constitutional commission that will be set up at the two-day Sochi talks, according to Reuters.

Last week, a Turkish official told Hürriyet Daily News that around 1,600 participants were expected to take part in negotiations, but a number of delegations have since said they would boycott the Sochi talks.

The Syrian Negotiation Commission – the opposition’s main negotiating bloc – said on Friday that it would not be attending the Sochi congress, AFP reported. Many other Syrian opposition groups have said they will boycott the congress. However, members of the Moscow platform, “a dissident faction of the opposition,” said it will attend, according to Al Jazeera.

Kurdish authorities have also said that they will boycott Sochi talks because of a continued Turkish assault on Afrin, according to Middle East Eye.

According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, “The fact that some representatives of the processes currently taking place in Syria are not participating is unlikely to stop this congress from going ahead, and is unlikely to seriously undermine the importance of the congress,” he said on a conference call with reporters on Monday.

No cease-fire in Eastern Ghouta: After Syrian opposition reports of a cease-fire agreement in the Eastern Ghouta on Friday, fighting continued between pro-government and rebel forces over the weekend in the Damascus suburbs.

On Friday, a rebel official said that during recent U.N.-sponsored peace talks in Vienna, Russia said it would put pressure on the Syrian government to enforce a cease-fire in the area, Reuters reported. Damascus never acknowledged the cease-fire.

At least 23 aerial raids and 40 missiles targeted the city of Harasta and its outskirts and dozens of artillery and aerial raids targeted the city of Arbin on Monday, killing 34 civilians, including at least one child and one woman, in Eastern Ghouta, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. SOHR said on Sunday that government bombardment in the area killed eight people between then and Saturday.

Operation Olive Branch: Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan made repeated threats to expand Turkey’s ongoing operation against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG)-controlled city of Afrin to other Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria.

On Friday, Erdogan said operations could extend eastward all the way to the Iraqi border, where the United States – Turkey’s NATO ally – has troops deployed. On Saturday, Turkey’s foreign minister called on the U.S. to withdraw its forces from Manbij ahead of a potential Turkish attack, but the commander of the U.S. Central Command, General Joseph Votel, told CNN on Sunday that withdrawing from Manbij was “not something we are looking into.”

Erdogan later said that “step by step, we will clean our entire border,” in a speech following one of the first significant gains Turkish troops and allied rebels made since Operation Olive Branch began nine days ago. On Sunday, they seized Mount Barsaya, which is located near the Kurdish town of Afrin and overlooks the town of Kilis on the Turkish side of the border and Azaz on the Syrian side.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that Turkish airstrikes between Sunday and Monday killed 13 people, including five children and three women, and injured another five, all from the same family in the village of Kobla in northeastern Afrin city.

On Friday, Turkish airstrikes damaged roughly 60 percent of the ancient Ain Dara neo-hittite temple, built by the Arameans in the first millennium B.C., in Afrin, according to the BBC. “The Turkish regime’s destruction of the Ain Dara Temple was a barbaric act, and a completion of the plan led by this regime to destroy the Syrian cultural heritage,” Mahmoud Hammoud, Syria’s director general for antiquities and museums, said, according to state-run news agency SANA.

Read our Daily Executive Summaries

f020b569-7455-410e-8ef8-f41b0077a844.png MOST POPULAR

This Week’s Top Articles



Analysis: Why Turkey Wants a ‘Secure Zone’ in Afrin

Turkey’s operation on the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in Syria aims to halt YPG expansion near Turkey’s border, facilitate refugee returns and empower Ankara-backed FSA forces, writes analyst Ömer Özkizilcik.



Syrian Conflict Isn’t Over, Don’t Forget the Syrians: Davos Voices

Syria experts at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos weigh in on what must be done to improve the humanitarian situation and alleviate the impact of war in Syria.

973ab3c3-9b8d-4a6d-9ac8-50621f4257fe.png EDITOR’S PICKS

Community Insight



Deeply Talks: The Future of Syria Is Female

Alessandria Masi,  Managing Editor of Syria Deeply

To conclude our partnership with TIMEP, Syria Deeply’s latest Deeply Talks discussed the changing role of Syrian women in the humanitarian, media and public sectors and the future challenges women face in having a voice in traditionally male-dominated fields.



Idlib Women in Jeopardy. What Comes Next?

Hind Kabawat,  Director of Interfaith Peacebuilding, CRDC, George Mason University

Attorney and Tanenbaum peacemaker Hind Kabawat writes about the deteriorating humanitarian situation for women in and around Idlib, where she cofounded the Jarjanaz and Darraya Women’s Peace Centre with the E.U. last year.


Upcoming coverage

We are always looking for new writers, experts and journalists who are covering the crisis in Syria and are interested in writing about a variety of topics. Please send us your ideas, story pitches and any other thoughts about our coverage via email, Twitter or Facebook.

International Nuremberg Principles Academy: Launch of Lexsitus Open Access Online Service for ICL

If this message is not displayed correctly, please click here.
Dear Madam, dear Sir,

The International Nuremberg Principles Academy – in co-operation with the Centre for International Law Research and Policy (CILRAP) – is pleased to announce the launch of Lexsitus, a new online service to support the learning of, and work with, legal sources in international criminal law.

Lexsitus offers visually integrated access to lectures, commentary, case law, preparatory works, and digests, at the level of every article of the Statute of the International Criminal Court. This includes more than 230 subtitled lectures (with full-text searchable transcripts) by a diverse Lexsitus Faculty of 50 experts, including Klaus Rackwitz, Director of the Nuremberg Academy.

On its landing page you find a user-friendly audio-visual tutorial, and introductions by leaders in the field such as Prosecutors Serge Brammertz (Vice-President of the Advisory Council of the Nuremberg Academy), Benjamin B. Ferencz, Richard J. Goldstone, and Mirna Goransky, Judges Marc Perrin de Brichambaut and LIU Daqun, Professors Morten Bergsmo and Narinder Singh, and Dr. Alexa Koenig.

Lexsitus seeks to contribute to ongoing and future efforts to develop capacity in international criminal law and international human rights law. It is also relevant to our discussions on dissemination of international law, proper access to law and thereby access to justice.

You find more information about Lexsitus here. We invite you to explore this new open access service, which is now part of the global commons.

If you have questions or feedback about Lexsitus, please send an e-mail message directly to

The Nuremberg Academy and CILRAP are pleased to offer you this new service and invite you to discover Lexsitus.

Best regards,

International Nuremberg Principles Academy

Egidienplatz 23
90403 Nuremberg

Tel.: +49-911/231-10379
Fax: +49-911/231-14020

Click here to unsubscribe from the mailing list.

Cultural Custom in Nepal Leaves Woman Dead

By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

KATHMANDU, Nepal – On January 8, 2018, Ms. Gauri Bayak, age 21 of Nepal, was found dead inside a smoke-filled hut by her sister-in-law. She lived in a village in Achham, a western district of Nepal. She had been banished to sleep in a shed as a result of menstruation.

It is custom in Nepal to force women who are menstruating to sleep outside the house. The community sees menstruating women as impure, contaminating the home, and angering the gods. They are barred from touching food, men, cattle, and religious icons. Thus, they are excluded from the house and forced to sleep outdoors in small sheds or huts. This practice is known as chhaupadi. It is believed that not following this practice will lead to bad fortune such as death or sickness of family members or livestock.

Image of a Menstruation hut. Photo courtesy of Navesh Chitrakar.

These huts are often poorly insulated and unheated. During the winter temperatures can drop below freezing in Nepal, thus the necessity to build the fire that ultimately lead to Bayak’s death. Additionally, there have been reports of wild animal attacks on the women sleeping in these menstruation huts. Married women typically spend only a few days from home while unmarried women will remain away from home for a week.

The practice was officially banned in Nepal in 2005, but many remote villages still practice this ritual. In 2017, the Nepali government passed a second legislation that criminalized chhaupadi. As a result anyone caught to have forced a women to go through with chhaupadi will face three months in jail and a 3,000 rupee fine.

Traditions have been slow to change as chhaupadi is a deeply rooted religious and culture practice in Nepal. Aid workers have found success with reducing the number of days menstruating women spend secluded outside as well as with promoting the use of secluded rooms inside the home.

The district’s Women’s Rights official said that women’s families should ‘take responsibility and stop this practice’ to protect women’s rights.

 For more information, please see:

The Strait Times- Nepali woman sent to ‘menstruation hut’ dies of suspected smoke inhalation – 10 January 2018

The Guardian – Woman in Nepal dies after being exiled to outdoor hut during her period – 12 January 2018

Times of India – Nepali woman suffocates in ‘menstruation hut’ – 10 January 2018