US to UN: We've Held 200 Teens in Afghanistan

Youths' average age is 16: report
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2012 8:06 AM CST
US to UN: We've Held 200 Teens in Afghanistan
In this photo reviewed by the U.S. military, US military personnel stand on a guard tower at the Parwan detention facility near Bagram, north of Kabul, Afghanistan in this Sept. 27, 2010 file photo.   (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)

During the war in Afghanistan, the US has detained some 200 teenage "enemy combatants," each for about a year, American officials tell the UN. The youths have been held at a military prison near Bagram Airfield not as punishment, but in order to prevent them "from returning to the battlefield," the US report says. Some are still being held in a facility that will soon be controlled by the Afghan government, the AP reports. Officials say the teens' ages aren't typically known until after they're captured.

The US says the average age is about 16, which means many were likely younger than that, says an ACLU rep. The head of an advocacy group notes that she's "represented children as young as 11 or 12 who have been at Bagram," noting that detainees aren't allowed "to contest their age" and that 200 seems like a low estimate. According to the report, detainees "would generally not be provided legal assistance" because they weren't charged with a crime. A yearlong detention means "greater risk of physical and mental abuse, especially if they are denied access to the protections guaranteed to them under international law," adds the ACLU spokesman. Click through for the full story. (More Afghanistan stories.)

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