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

Youths' average age is 16: report
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Dec 8, 2012 8:06 AM CST

(Newser) – 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.

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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. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)

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