Approximately 200 juveniles have been held for about a year by the United States in an Afghan prison.
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.
The U.S. military had held them “to prevent a combatant from returning to the battlefield,” the report said.
A few are still confined at the Detention Facility in Parwan, which will be turned over to the Afghan government, it said. “Many of them have been released or transferred to the Afghan government,” said the report, distributed this week.
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.
If the average age is 16, “This means it is highly likely that some children were as young as 14 or 13 years old when they were detained by U.S. forces,” Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s human rights program, said Friday.
…Dakwar also criticized the length of detention, a year on average, according to the U.S. report.
“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,” Dakwar said.
The U.S. State Department was called for comment on the criticism, and a representative said they were seeking an officer to reply.