WASHINGTON: The United States on Thursday added Pakistan and Turkey to its Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA) list, a designation that could lead to strict sanctions on military assistance and listed countries’ participation in peacekeeping programmes. Both states are implicated in the use of child soldiers over the past year, placing a NATO ally for the first time in such a list, in a move that is likely to further complicate the already sensitive ties of US with Pakistan and Turkey. The US Child Soldiers Prevention Act requires publication in the annual TIP report of a list of foreign governments that have recruited or used child soldiers during the previous year (April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021). The entities reviewed for this designation include armed forces, police, other security forces and government-supported armed groups. The 2021 CSPA list includes governments of the following countries: Afghanistan, Burma, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Turkey, Venezuela and Yemen. The list more than doubled to 14 countries and to 15 in 2021 — the highest number of countries ever identified in a single year. This year’s list includes repeat offenders, two one new additions — Pakistan and Turkey — and some renewed appearances that were previously removed. The statement, issued by the State Department in Washington, defines the term “child soldier” as: Any person less than 18 years of age who takes a direct part in hostilities as a member of governmental armed forces, police, or other security forces. The term “child soldier” is also applied to a person who is serving in any capacity, including in a support role, such as a “cook, porter, messenger, medic, guard, or sex slave”. The CSPA prohibits listed governments in the following US programmes: International Military Education and Training, Foreign Military Financing, Excess Defence Articles, and Peacekeeping Operations. Some programmes undertaken pursuant to the Peacekeeping Operations authority, are exempted. The CSPA also prohibits the issuance of licences for direct commercial sales of military equipment to such governments. Beginning October 1, 2021, and effective throughout Fiscal Year 2022, these restrictions will apply to the listed countries, except those who receive a presidential waiver, applicable exception, or reinstatement of assistance pursuant to the terms of the CSPA.