The Geneva-based Committee on the Rights of the Child told the United States this week that it is ”alarmed at reports of the death of hundreds of children as a result of attacks and air strikes by the US military forces in Afghanistan”.
The committee also added that it was troubled that the casualties were ”due notably to reported lack of precautionary measures and indiscriminate use of force”.
A range of US policies affecting children were being reviewed for the first time since 2008, the last year of the Bush administration and the year Barack Obama was first elected president.
The Committee also stressed that allegations of torture and other forms of mistreatment must be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice, and that no child should be transferred to Afghan custody if “there are substantial grounds for the danger of being subject to torture and ill treatment.”
The Committee specifically mentioned the case of Omar Kadr, a former child soldier who was detained by U.S. forces at the age of 15 and was subjected to torture and a systematic program of harsh and highly coercive interrogations at the American prisons at Guantánamo Bay and Bagram.
A report to the UN Security Council last April by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s special representative for Children and Armed Conflict said,
”The number of child casualties attributed to airstrikes conducted by pro-government forces, including the Afghan National Security Forces and the International Military Forces, doubled compared with the last reporting period, with 110 children killed and 68 injured in 2011.”
The United States provides air power for the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The UN committee’s report this week said it ”expresses grave concern” at the increase.