Guidelines launched to prevent recruitment and use of children in armed forces
KABUL - To prevent and respond to child recruitment and use in the National Security Forces, and to improve age-verification mechanisms, the Government of Afghanistan officially launched age assessment guidelines at a high-level meeting in Kabul.
Prepared by experts, practitioners, and government officials, with the technical assistance of UNAMA and UNICEF, the age assessment guidelines are designed to be applied during any recruitment process into the Afghan security forces.
At the meeting, participants addressed the progress made on the implementation of Government’s action plan related to de-listing the Afghan National Police for child recruitment within the annexes of the UN Secretary General’s report on Children and Armed Conflict.
“The Afghan Government is committed to aligning with the provisions of international human rights instruments, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,” said Hekmat Karzai, Afghanistan’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Karzai, who chaired the meeting, said that with the support of UNAMA and UNICEF, the Afghan Government has made notable progress on the development of a law criminalizing underage recruitment.
The UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, Mark Bowden, also spoke at the meeting, calling the guidelines a significant achievement for the Government of Afghanistan in making progress toward its commitments, and noting that the number of verified cases of child recruitment remained relatively low during 2015.
“The guidelines are uniquely Afghan in that preparations came from within the Ministry of Interior and other concerned ministries, supported by UNICEF and UNAMA,” said Mr. Bowden, who reaffirmed technical support and assistance to the Government to ensure the full implementation of the Action Plan.
Also speaking at the meeting was UNICEF’s Country Representative in Afghanistan, Akhil Iyer, who stressed the importance of implementing the guidelines in conjunction with the expansion of child protection units (CPUs) to the Afghan National Police recruitment centres across all 34 provinces. He offered UNICEF’s support in further expanding the CPUs.