Legal Obligation of U.S. Armed Forces to Intervene in Acts of Bacha Bazi in Afghanistan [October 22, 2015] [open pdf - 122KB]
From the Document: "A recent New York Times article and editorial alleged rampant sexual abuse of young boys (bacha bazi) in Afghanistan by armed commanders in the Afghan militias. The reports raise concerns about the role of the U.S. military in reporting and combating the abuse that is alleged to have occurred on shared military bases. Servicemembers quoted in the article state that they were ordered to 'look the other way because it's their culture' and therefore were unable to stop the alleged abuse. The question has been raised, 'what if any, are the legal obligations of the U.S. military to intervene?' It has been asserted by some commentators that the Geneva Conventions and federal law would impose a legal obligation on U.S. forces to investigate and prosecute the alleged abuse under the laws of war. However, it appears that this statement may be overbroad. […] The current Geneva Conventions consist of four treaties, each protecting a specific group of individuals: Geneva Convention (GC) I -- wounded and sick in the field; GC II -- wounded, sick, and shipwrecked at sea; GC III -- prisoners of war; and GC IV -- civilians. The Geneva Conventions are applicable during international armed conflict (declared war or any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more parties to the treaty) and non-international armed conflict (armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the parties to the treaty). However, the U.S. policy is to comply with the Law of Armed Conflict during all operations, whether classified as international armed conflict, non-international armed conflict, or situations short of armed conflict."
CRS Legal Sidebar, October 22, 2015
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html