In recent years, several human rights bodies have faulted the U.S. for failing to live up to its international legal commitments to protect children in war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. This week, the U.S. issued its written response to questions raised earlier this year by the United Nations committee charged with implementing the international treaty on the rights of children in armed conflict – and it contains some disturbing news: “Over the last several years the United States has captured more than 200 individuals under the age of 18” and held them in military custody, the U.S. report said.
The treaty, formally known as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC), guarantees basic protections to children under 18 in armed conflicts, including while in military detention. The U.S. will undergo formal review by the Committee on the Rights of the Child in January 2013. The committee had requested, among other things, that the U.S. provide details on the number of juveniles detained by U.S. military forces in Afghanistan, their treatment in detention, reasons for their detention, and the forms of rehabilitation and reintegration assistance available to them.