Professor of Gender and War. University of Sydney

New documents reveal sex crimes committed by AFRICOM soldiers

SUMMARY: In April 2012 six deaths, three civilians and three American Special Ops commandos, occurred during an all-night bar crawl through Mali’s capital Bamako according to a formerly classified report by US Army criminal investigators. This was also months after the US suspended military relations with Mali’s government. US Africa Command (AFRICOM) is responsible for military commands on the continent, leading a record 674 missions in 2014 alone. As military operations on the continent increase, US male soldiers have also perpetrated more crimes, including sexual assault, drug use and other violent crimes. This information has been collected from legal documents, Pentagon reports, and criminal investigation files obtained by TomDispatch through Freedom of Information Act requests. In recent years the US military has faced allegations of widespread sex crimes, and the documents revealed by TomDispatch reveal that the problem persists in AFRICOM. One pentagon reports three incidents in Dijibouti in 2013, one instance of ‘abusive sexual contact’ and two of ‘wrongful sexual contact.’ Given the gross underreporting of sex crimes in the military, according to the Pentagon, it is highly likely the numbers reveleaed in these reports are accurate. Regardless, there are numerous other crimes and occurrences that suggest malfeasance, yet AFRICOM have “downplayed, disguised, or covered up almost every aspect of its operations.”

SOURCE: Nick Turse, April 22 2015, ‘Sex crimes, drugs and dead soldiers: The US military’s secret African Shame,’ Salon,

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