[FoRK] Keeping it under wraps till November 3.
owen at permafrost.net
Mon Aug 2 15:19:49 PDT 2004
Thank god the US liberated those orphanages.
> Iraq's Child Prisoners
> A Sunday Herald investigation has discovered that coalition forces are
> holding more than 100 children in jails such as Abu Ghraib. Witnesses
> claim that the detainees – some as young as 10 – are also being
> subjected to rape and torture
> By Neil Mackay
> *It was *early last October that Kasim Mehaddi Hilas says he witnessed
> the rape of a boy prisoner aged about 15 in the notorious Abu Ghraib
> prison in Iraq. “The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the
> doors with sheets,” he said in a statement given to investigators
> probing prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib. “Then, when I heard the
> screaming I climbed the door … and I saw [the soldier’s name is
> deleted] who was wearing a military uniform.” Hilas, who was himself
> threatened with being sexually assaulted in Abu Graib, then describes
> in horrific detail how the soldier raped “the little kid”.
> In another witness statement, passed to the Sunday Herald, former
> prisoner Thaar Salman Dawod said: “[I saw] two boys naked and they
> were cuffed together face to face and [a US soldier] was beating them
> and a group of guards were watching and taking pictures and there was
> three female soldiers laughing at the prisoners. The prisoners, two of
> them, were young.”
> It’s not certain exactly how many children are being held by coalition
> forces in Iraq, but a Sunday Herald investigation suggests there are
> up to 107. Their names are not known, nor is where they are being
> kept, how long they will be held or what has happened to them during
> their detention.
> Proof of the widespread arrest and detention of children in Iraq by US
> and UK forces is contained in an internal Unicef report written in
> June. The report has – surprisingly – not been made public. A key
> section on child protection, headed “Children in Conflict with the Law
> or with Coalition Forces”, reads: “In July and August 2003, several
> meetings were conducted with CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) …
> and Ministry of Justice to address issues related to juvenile justice
> and the situation of children detained by the coalition forces …
> Unicef is working through a variety of channels to try and learn more
> about conditions for children who are imprisoned or detained, and to
> ensure that their rights are respected.”
> Another section reads: “Information on the number, age, gender and
> conditions of incarceration is limited. In Basra and Karbala children
> arrested for alleged activities targeting the occupying forces are
> reported to be routinely transferred to an internee facility in Um
> Qasr. The categorisation of these children as ‘internees’ is worrying
> since it implies indefinite holding without contact with family,
> expectation of trial or due process.”
> The report also states: “A detention centre for children was
> established in Baghdad, where according to ICRC (International
> Committee of the Red Cross) a significant number of children were
> detained. Unicef was informed that the coalition forces were planning
> to transfer all children in adult facilities to this ‘specialised’
> child detention centre. In July 2003, Unicef requested a visit to the
> centre but access was denied. Poor security in the area of the
> detention centre has prevented visits by independent observers like
> the ICRC since last December.
> “The perceived unjust detention of Iraqi males, including youths, for
> suspected activities against the occupying forces has become one of
> the leading causes for the mounting frustration among Iraqi youths and
> the potential for radicalisation of this population group.”
> Journalists in Germany have also been investigating the detention and
> abuse of children in Iraq. One reporter, Thomas Reutter of the TV
> programme Report Mainz, interviewed a US army sergeant called Samuel
> Provance, who is banned from speaking about his six months stationed
> in Abu Ghraib but told Reutter of how one 16-year-old Iraqi boy was
> “He was terribly afraid,” Provance said. “He had the skinniest arms
> I’ve ever seen. He was trembling all over. His wrists were so thin we
> couldn’t even put handcuffs on him. Right when I saw him for the first
> time, and took him for interrogation, I felt sorry for him.
> “The interrogation specialists poured water over him and put him into
> a car. Then they drove with him through the night, and at that time it
> was very, very cold. Then they smeared him with mud and showed him to
> his father, who was also in custody. They had tried out other
> interrogation methods on him, but he wasn’t to be brought to talk. The
> interrogation specialists told me, after the father had seen his son
> in this state, his heart broke. He wept and promised to tell them
> everything they wanted to know.”
> An Iraqi TV reporter Suhaib Badr-Addin al-Baz saw the Abu Ghraib
> children’s wing when he was arrested by Americans while making a
> documentary. He spent 74 days in Abu Ghraib.
> “I saw a camp for children there,” he said. “Boys, under the age of
> puberty. There were certainly hundreds of children in this camp.”
> Al-Baz said he heard a 12-year-old girl crying. Her brother was also
> held in the jail. One night guards came into her cell. “She was
> beaten,” said al-Baz. “I heard her call out, ‘They have undressed me.
> They have poured water over me.’”
> He says he heard her cries and whimpering daily – this, in turn,
> caused other prisoners to cry as they listened to her. Al-Baz also
> told of an ill 15-year-old boy who was soaked repeatedly with hoses
> until he collapsed. Guards then brought in the child’s father with a
> hood over his head. The boy collapsed again.
> Although most of the children are held in US custody, the Sunday
> Herald has established that some are held by the British Army. British
> soldiers tend to arrest children in towns like Basra, which are under
> UK control, then hand the youngsters over to the Americans who
> interrogate them and detain them.
> Between January and May this year the Red Cross registered a total of
> 107 juveniles in detention during 19 visits to six coalition prisons.
> The aid organisation’s Rana Sidani said they had no complete
> information about the ages of those detained, or how they had been
> treated. The deteriorating security situation has prevented the Red
> Cross visiting all detention centres.
> Amnesty International is outraged by the detention of children. It is
> aware of “numerous human rights violations against Iraqi juveniles,
> including detentions, torture and ill-treatment, and killings”.
> Amnesty has interviewed former detainees who say they’ve seen boys as
> young as 10 in Abu Ghraib.
> The organisation’s leaders have called on the coalition governments to
> give concrete information on how old the children are, how many are
> detained, why and where they are being held, and in what circumstances
> they are being detained. They also want to know if the children have
> been tortured.
> Alistair Hodgett, media director of Amnesty International USA, said
> the coalition forces needed to be “transparent” about their policy of
> child detentions, adding: “Secrecy is one thing that rings alarm
> bells.” Amnesty was given brief access to one jail in Mosul, he said,
> but has been repeatedly turned away from all others. He pointed out
> that even countries “which don’t have good records”, such as Libya,
> gave Amnesty access to prisons. “Denying access just fuels the rumour
> mill,” he said.
> Hodgett added that British and US troops should not be detaining any
> Iraqis – let alone children – following the recent handover of power.
> “They should all be held by Iraqi authorities,” he said. “When the
> coalition handed over Saddam they should have handed over the other
> 3000 detainees.”
> The British Ministry of Defence confirmed UK forces had handed over
> prisoners to US troops, but a spokes man said he did not know the ages
> of any detainees given to the Americans.
> The MoD also admitted it was currently holding one prisoner aged under
> 18 at Shaibah prison near Um Qasr. Since the invasion Britain has
> detained, and later released, 65 under-18s. The MoD claimed the ICRC
> had access to British jails and detainee lists.
> High-placed officials in the Pentagon and Centcom told the Sunday
> Herald that children as young as 14 were being held by US forces. “We
> do have juveniles detained,” a source said. “They have been detained
> as they are deemed to be a threat or because they have acted against
> the coalition or Iraqis.”
> Officially, the Pentagon says it is holding “around 60 juvenile
> detainees primarily aged 16 and 17”, although when it was pointed out
> that the Red Cross estimate is substantially higher, a source admitted
> “numbers may have gone up, we might have detained more kids”.
> Officials would not comment about children under the age of 16 being
> held prisoner. Sources said: ‘‘It’s a real challenge ascertaining
> their ages. Unlike the UK or the US, they don’t have IDs or birth
> certificates.” The Sunday Herald has been told, however, that at least
> five children aged under 16 are being kept at Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca.
> A highly placed source in the Pentagon said: “We have done
> investigations into accusations of juveniles being abused and raped
> and can’t find anything that resembles that.”
> The Pentagon’s official policy is to segregate juvenile prisoners from
> the rest of the prison population, and allow young inmates to join
> family members also being detained. “Our main concern is that they are
> not abused or harassed by older detainees. We know they need special
> treatment,” an official said.
> Pentagon sources said they were unaware how long child prisoners were
> kept in jail but said their cases were reviewed every 90 days. The
> last review was early last month. The sources confirmed the children
> had been questioned and interrogated when initially detained, but
> could not say whether this was “an adult-style interrogation”.
> The Norwegian government, which is part of the “coalition of the
> willing”, has already said it will tell the US that the alleged
> torture of children is intolerable. Odd Jostein Sæter, parliamentary
> secretary at the Norwegian prime minister’s office, said: “Such
> assaults are unacceptable. It is against international laws and it is
> also unacceptable from a moral point of view. This is why we react
> strongly … We are addressing this in a very severe and direct way and
> present concrete demands. This is damaging the struggle for democracy
> and human rights in Iraq.”
> In Denmark, which is also in the coalition, Save the Children called
> on its government to tell the occupying forces to order the immediate
> release of child detainees. Neals Hurdal, head of the Danish Save the
> Children, said the y had heard rumours of children in Basra being
> maltreated in custody since May.
> Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it was “extremely disturbed” that the
> coalition was holding children for long periods in jails notorious for
> torture. HRW also criticised the policy of categorising children as
> “security detainees”, saying this did not give carte blanche for them
> to be held indefinitely. HRW said if there was evidence the children
> had committed crimes then they should be tried in Iraqi courts,
> otherwise they should be returned to their families.
> Unicef is “profoundly disturbed” by reports of children being abused
> in coalition jails. Alexandra Yuster, Unicef’s senior adviser on child
> detention, said that under international law children should be
> detained only as a last resort and only then for the shortest possible
> They should have access to lawyers and their families, be kept safe,
> healthy, educated, well-fed and not be subjected to any form of mental
> or physical punishment, she added. Unicef is now “desperately” trying
> to get more information on the fate of the children currently detained
> in coalition jails.
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