(New York) – Thousands of children in conflict-affected countries have been detained without charge for months or even years as national security threats, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Untold numbers have been tortured or have died in custody. Governments should immediately stop detaining children without charge and appropriately punish those who mistreat them.
The 35-page report, “Extreme Measures: Abuses against Children Detained as National Security Threats,” documents the arrest and detention of children for alleged association with non-state armed groups or involvement in conflict-related offenses. Overbroad and vague counterterrorism legislation adopted in response to extremist armed groups such as the Islamic State and Boko Haram has increased the detention of children perceived to be security threats. Human Rights Watch specifically examined the detention and treatment of children in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Nigeria, and Syria.