Conflicts & War

HRW says children accused of insurgent links tortured in Afghanistan

Kabul, June 22 (EFE).- The nonprofit Human Rights Watch on Tuesday denounced the Afghanistan government’s alleged illegal detention and torture of minors for links with armed insurgent groups in the country.

Hundreds of children are currently held by the authorities for alleged involvement with the Taliban, or other armed groups, and are often subjected to torture, according to a statement by HRW.

The NGO said the children are often illegally held in military facilities, and forced to sign confessions they do not understand.

Many of them remain in custody solely because of their parents’ alleged involvement with insurgent groups, it said.

“Detaining and torturing children who have already been victimized by armed insurgent groups is inhumane and counterproductive,” said HRW children’s rights advocacy director Jo Becker.

“Instead of letting these forgotten children languish in prison, the Afghan government, the UN, and donors should immediately establish programs to reintegrate these children into society,” he added.

According to a report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, 44 percent of children interviewed in 2019-2020 reported torture, with minors as young as 10 held in military facilities on conflict-related charges.

During Afghanistan’s decades-long conflict, armed groups have used children to carry out suicide attacks, and plant improvised explosive devices, among other things. The Afghan security forces too have recruited children.

The prisoner exchange between the Taliban and the Afghan government that took place last year as a result of in the Doha agreement signed between the United States and the insurgents did not include children in detention.

Even though the intra-Afghan talks that commenced after the prisoner swap deal has failed to make much headway, there has been no real focus on the plight of these minors in the agenda.

Moreover, violence has spiraled in the conflict-ridden country in recent months with the Taliban looking to recapture territory as foreign troops are set to pullout out completely by September, exactly 20 years after the infamous 9/11 attacks that led to the invasion of Afghanistan.

Unlike other conflict-affected countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, or South Sudan, Afghanistan has no reintegration programs for children formerly associated with armed groups.

“These children are being forgotten, and their continued detention and abuse will not deter future violence,” concluded Becker. EFE


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