Condemning the use of a minor in an execution carried out by the Taliban in Afghanistan, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said today that such acts – deplorably not uncommon in many countries – constitute war crimes under international law.
“The act was a terrible example of how children can be used by adults to commit heinous crimes in times of conflict,” the statement noted, adding that the use of any child under the age of 15 in a conflict in any capacity represents a war crime.
“It is not uncommon to see children forced to commit atrocities against their neighbours and even their own families. These acts cut off all ties between these children and their original communities and strengthen their dependency on the armed group that has recruited them.”
UNICEF has programmes in many countries where former child soldiers are helped to reintegrate into their communities and given psychological and emotional support to overcome their distress.