Taliban have stepped up child soldiers’ recruitment: HRW
PESHAWAR (Pajhwok): A New York-based human rights watchdog on Wednesday accused the Taliban of recruiting scores of child soldiers to their ranks since mid-2015 in violation of international law.
The children were deployed for military operations including the production and planting of improvised explosive devices (IED), the Human Rights Watch (HRW) alleged.
New research by the group shows the insurgents have increasingly used religious schoolsin Kunduz provinceto provide military training to children between the ages of 13 and 17. Many of whom have been on the battlefield.
Patricia Gossman, HRW’s senior Afghanistan researcher, said:“The Taliban’s apparent strategy to throw increasing numbers of children into battle is as cynical and cruel as it is unlawful.”
Such children should be either at school or at home with their parents, she remarked, slamming their exploitation as cannon fodder for the Taliban insurgency.
Some of the children recruited from madrasas in Kunduz, Takharand Badakhshan provinces are 13 or younger, according to the organisation, which called Taliban’s deployment of individuals under the age of 18 a violationof international law applicable in Afghanistan.
Now controlling madrasas in Kunduz and other northern provinces, the militants previouslysent boys selected for military training to Pakistan’s restive tribal region of North Waziristan.
By the time they attained the age of 13, Taliban-educated children were capable of military using firearms, production and deployment of IEDs, relatives told the watchdog. The trained child soldiers are then assigned to specific Taliban groups.
Setting up training centers in madrasas in Kunduz, the Taliban stepped child soldiers’ recruitment in 2015 due to expanded operations against Afghan government forces. More than 100 children from Chahardara district were reportedly deployed last year.
Children as young as 10 fought with the rebels in the battles that led to the Taliban’s temporary takeover of Kunduz, experts told the rights group. International humanitarian law, or the laws of war, prohibits the recruitment or use of children under 15 by parties to a conflict.
HRW interviewed relatives of 13 boys recruited into the Taliban in 2015. In all cases, the parents tried unsuccessfully to secure the return of their sons, as some children were killed during the fighting in Kunduz.
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