The U.S. military has detained more than 200 Afghan teenagers (though some put the number much higher), characterizing them as “enemy combatants,” at a military prison next to the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. Also, according to the U.S. military, these children/teen detainees have not been charged with any crime.
Are you confused yet? You should be.
Why would someone, especially a juvenile, be sent to prison if they didn’t do anything? Is this similar to the explanation given by senior officer, Marion Carrington, that the US military is on the lookout for children with “potential hostile intent?”
In fact, these Bagram imprisoned children were not held or charged for any particular crime or seemingly even “strategic purposes.” Treated as combatants they have been held without any legal assistance and generally have to defend themselves. Tina N. Foster, executive director for the International Justice Network which represents adult and juvenile Bagram detainees called such proceedings a “sham.”
According to the huffington post,
Foster said that the teens seized are not in uniform or even typically taken in combat.”We’re not talking about battlefield captures, we’re talking about people who are living at home, and four or five brothers might be taken together. It might take them a year or more to figure out that one of them was younger than 18, to determine the identities of these kids,” she said.
This is what happens when we shred our Constitution and disregard international treaties and conventions on the rights of children and prisoners of war.
Here are more facts regarding the treatment of these children :
- Some of those detained were children as young as 11 or 12.
- Some of these kids were detained for over a year.
- The number of 200 is a low estimate.
- At the times of the capture, parents explained that their children are under the age of 18, but the U.S. doesn’t allow the detainees or their families to contest their age.
- The U.S. State Department was called for comment on the criticism, and a representative said they were “seeking an officer to reply.”
- In 2008, the U.S. said it held about 500 juveniles in Iraqi detention centers and then had only about 10 at the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan when in fact a total of some 2,500 youths had been detained, almost all in Iraq, from 2002 through 2008 under the Bush administration.
The last fact shows that the American public has been lied to before, and so we should ask ourselves: what makes this situation any different?
In other news the UN is launching a probe into drone strikes and whether resultant civilian deaths constitute a war crime:
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has launched an investigation into drone strikes and will review resultant civilian casualties to determine whether the attacks constitute a war crime.
Ben Emmerson, a UN special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, formally launched the inquiry on Thursday, in response to requests from Russia, China and Pakistan.
A statement released by the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights states that the inquiry will provide a “critical examination of the factual evidence concerning civilian casualties”.
It also states that the inquiry ultimately intends to make recommendations to the UN General Assembly to prompt countries to “investigate into the lawfulness and proportionality of such attacks”.
At a press conference on Thursday in London, Emmerson said that the British government had already agreed to co-operate with the investigation and that he was ‘optimistic’ that the US would do the same.
He also requested the US to release ‘before and after’ videos of the drone strikes and internal reports of those killed, including civilians.
Emerson’s team will conduct the inquiry in consultation with military experts and journalists from the UK, Yemen and Pakistan.