Human rights watchdogs slam US over detaining 200 teens in Afghan war
Human rights officials have reportedly criticized United States over a report submitted to the United Nations (UN) that revealed the U.S. military has detained more than 200 Afghan teenagers who were captured in the Afghan war for over a year at a time at a military prison there.
The U.S. State Department characterized the detainees held since 2008 as "enemy combatants" in a report sent every four years to the United Nations in Geneva, updating U.S. compliance with the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.
However, Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's human rights also criticized the length of detention, which is a year on average.
"This is an extraordinarily unacceptably long period of time that exposes children in detention to greater risk of physical and mental abuse, especially if they are denied access to the protections guaranteed to them under international law," ABC News quoted Dakwar, as saying.
According to the report, US said a few are still confined at the Detention Facility in Parwan, which will be turned over to the Afghan government.
Most of the juvenile Afghan detainees were about 16 years old, but their age was not usually determined until after capture, the U.S. report said.
"The U.S. military had held them to prevent a combatant from returning to the battlefield. Many of them have been released or transferred to the Afghan government," the report, distributed this week, said.
Tina M. Foster, executive director of the International Justice Network, also questioned the '200' number of detainees held by the US.
"I've represented children as young as 11 or 12 who have been at Bagram. I question the number of 200, because there are thousands of detainees at Parwan. There are other children whose parents have said these children are under 18 at the time of their capture, and the U.S. doesn't allow the detainees or their families to contest their age," she said.