[FoRK] Keeping it under wraps till November 3.

Owen Byrne 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 
> arrested.
> “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 
> time.
> 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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