Practice Relating to Rule 135. Children
Section A. Special protection
Afghanistan’s Presidential Decree on Special Operations (2012) states:
Handing over the Special Operations from … NATO to [the] mixed – MoD [Ministry of Defence], MoI [Ministry of the Interior] and NDS [National Directorate of Security] – Afghan security forces was an essential [step] to ensure and guarantee the national sovereignty and rule of law in Afghanistan. Implementation of such operation[s] makes the responsibilities of the judicial and justice bodies harder, and requires them to have a[n] [in-]depth concentration on the fundamental rights and freedom[s] of the citizens, guaranteed in the Constitution and Criminal Procedure Code in [all] phases – inspection, detection, investigation, prosecution and trial.
Thus, I order observance of the following provisions … :
4. During the Special Operations … special measures [are to] be taken to protect juveniles … .
In 2009, in its initial report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Afghanistan stated:
National Strategy for Children at Risk
55. This strategy was adopted in 2006 and seeks to provide a framework for the development of a network of services and programmes which protect children and support their families … The aim is to protect children from exploitation, violence, and abuse. Various categories of children have been identified as “at risk” … Through implementation of this strategy over the last three years 2,366,177 children have been protected.
164. The MoLSAMD [Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs & Disabled] adopted the National Strategy for Children at Risk in 2006. One of the Strategy’s objectives is to build a supportive environment for children at risk by creating conditions for: adequate income and livelihoods for the maintenance of children; suitable and affordable shelters; access to basic healthcare; awareness on importance of nutrition; access to quality education; enabling a secure environment; preventing underage and forced marriages; social protection; awareness on respecting the rights of children; and access to safe drinking water. The Strategy also supports children who are at risk due to armed conflict and tries to secure a standard of living that is in line with the Convention’s standards.
… Child street workers
176. In Afghanistan there are no street children, but there are child street workers who resort to working in the streets because of their families’ poor economic conditions [and] conflict-related problems (internal displacement and weakening of community support networks) …
178. The existence of child street workers is a big challenge for the Government and civil society. The Government, in cooperation with international organizations, has established drop-in day centres to support these children. The children come to the centres daily at specific hours. Here they have access to … food … These centres have … social workers, and other service personnel.
255. In accordance with the National Strategy on the Protection of Children at Risk, article 71, safe play areas have been established throughout the country to facilitate the healthy physical and emotional development of children and preserve them from the risk of landmines and unexploded ordinances.
359. Despite the achievements, many serious challenges still lie ahead on the path of ensuring and institutionalizing child rights such as: … victimization of children during the armed conflict; … lack of access of children to standard living conditions; presence of street children.
Afghanistan also stated that the category of “children at risk” includes “child soldiers and other war-affected children … [as well as] internally displaced and returnee children”.
Afghanistan further stated: “The laws of Afghanistan define all individuals under the age of 18 years as a child.”