JALALABAD - Protecting children from recruitment as police is the aim of a new Jalalabad child protection unit, which is part of a wider Government initiative.
Located at the Police Recruitment Centre of Nangarhar’s Police Department, the new unit will work to prevent the recruitment of children into the police by applying the Government’s new guidelines, launched last week in Kabul at a high-level meeting.
The recruitment, use and association of children with armed forces and armed groups is one of the six grave violations of child rights in armed conflict. As part of its efforts to end this harmful practice, Afghanistan signed in 2011 an Action Plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children in its national security forces.
The new age-assessment guidelines are designed to prevent and respond to child recruitment and use of children in the National Security Forces, and to improve age-verification mechanisms. Supported by UNAMA and UNICEF, the guidelines are designed to be applied during any recruitment process into the Afghan security forces. They are part of the Government’s action plan to de-list Afghanistan from 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, at the time of the launch of the guidelines.
In Jalalabad, participants at the opening of the child protection unit included representatives of the Afghan National Police (ANP) and the Ministry of Interior (MoI), Directors of the Haj and Religious Affairs Department and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, and staff of UNAMA and UNICEF.
Colonel Abdul Muhammad, Head of the ANP Human Rights Office, briefed participants on the importance and responsibility of the unit, while Fazel Ahmad Shirzad, Chief of Police, said the unit will further strengthen mechanisms to prevent children recruitment.
Lucy Perkins, a political affairs officer with UNAMA, welcomed the efforts made by the Afghan Government to prevent child recruitment in the Afghan National Security Forces.
She said that the unit was a very positive step forward for child protection, and an important demonstration of the ANP’s commitment to making progress on children’s fundamental rights and meeting international standards.
“Child recruitment is already prohibited in Afghanistan, and important steps have been taken to reduce child recruitment throughout the country,” said Ms. Perkins.
Abdul Zahir Haqqani, Director of the Haj and Religious Affairs Department, called on Mullah Imams and religious scholars to support the initiative by delivering Friday sermons on the prevention of child recruitment. Mr. Haqqani also emphasized the important role of education, calling on families to send their children to school.