Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Afghan security forces supported by the U.S. military raped children but American troops were told to ignore it, according to a report by the Pentagon's inspector general Thursday.
The Department of Defense began the investigation in 2015 after several media reports alleged the U.S. military ignored the practice to facilitate the Pentagon's mission in Afghanistan. The investigation found there was no written guidance or policy telling U.S. personnel not to report such behavior, but that it was best for it to be left alone.
Interviewed subjects said they had heard about the abuse and reported it to their superiors, but "In some cases, the interviewees explained that they, or someone whom they knew, were told that nothing could be done about child sexual abuse because of Afghanistan's status as a sovereign nation, that it was not a priority for the command, or that it was best to ignore the situation and to let the local police handle it," the report stated.
The report quoted several interviewees who were told that the abuse problem was a cultural issue and the U.S. military couldn't do anything to stop it. But once news media, including The New York Times, began reporting the abuse among Afghan forces, there was more concern.
"The initial reaction of the staff was 'we don't really care about this, and we're not going to do anything about it.' Then, after the New York Times article came out, and the issue got traction, we had to pay attention to it," one interviewee said.
In that article, Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. reportedly called his father to discuss the problem.
"At night we can hear them screaming, but we're not allowed to do anything about it," father Gregory Buckley Sr. remembered his son saying. "My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it's their culture."
Buckley Jr. was shot to death at his base in 2012, about two weeks after he began expressing concern about the abuse.
The inspector general report recommended that the Department of Defense determine whether child rape by Afghan security forces constitutes "gross violations of human rights that require further review by United States Forces-Afghanistan or the Gross Violation of Human Rights Forum."