KABUL: Human Rights Watch has called on the Afghan government to free children detained for allegedly collaborating with insurgent groups in the country and to work with the United Nations and donor countries to bring them back into the community.
Hundreds of Afghan children are being held on charges of complicity with the Taliban, the Islamic State and other terrorist groups, which it claims are being tortured in government detention centers, according to HRW.
The Afghan National Security Council has confirmed the detention of children with links to the Taliban, but has strongly denied that they were tortured, saying that the children would be handed over to their families after undergoing healthy education.
Rahmatullah Andar, a spokesman for the council, has said that the Taliban were recruiting children and using them for their war. The Afghan government detains children who could have been harmed, used in war, or targeted by “terrorist” attacks, and will be returned to their families after training programs, according to him.
A spokesman for the Afghanistan Prison Administration, Safiullah Jalalzai, has also denied that children were being tortured in prison, saying that about 700 children under the age of 18 were being held on various charges across the country and were being held in correctional facilities.
According to a UN Security Council report released in June, Human Rights Watch found that the children were being held in military bases in violation of Afghan law.
Human rights watchdogs say most of these children are forced to sign documents and confessions of which they are unaware. They are charged with vague crimes such as “terrorism” and could face up to 15 years in prison.