By John Lee.
Iraqi and Kurdistan Regional Government authorities have charged hundreds of children with terrorism for alleged Islamic State (also known as ISIS) affiliation, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said, adding that the prosecutions are often based on dubious accusations and forced confessions obtained through torture.
The 53-page report, “‘Everyone Must Confess’: Abuses against Children Suspected of ISIS Affiliation in Iraq,” shows that Iraqi and KRG authorities often arrest and prosecute children with any perceived connection to ISIS, use torture to coerce confessions, and sentence them to prison in hasty and unfair trials.
International law recognizes children recruited by armed groups primarily as victims who should be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq is torturing children to confess to involvement with the Islamic State (ISIS), according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Children told Human Rights Watch that in 2017 and 2018, security officers, known as Asayish, used beatings, stress positions, and electric shock on boys in their custody. Most said they had no access to a lawyer and they were not allowed to read the confessions Asayish wrote and forced them to sign.
According to a report from Amnesty International, Iraqi government forces, paramilitary militias and the armed group Islamic State (IS) committed war crimes, other violations of international humanitarian law and gross human rights abuses in the internal armed conflict.
IS fighters carried out execution-style killings targeting opponents and civilians fleeing IS-held territory, raped and otherwise tortured captives, used civilians as human shields and used child soldiers.
Militias extrajudicially executed, forcibly disappeared and tortured civilians fleeing conflict, and destroyed homes and other civilian property. Thousands remained detained without trial on suspicion of links to IS.
Torture in detention remained rife. Courts sentenced terrorism suspects to death, frequently after unfair trials. Executions continued at a high rate.
The full report can be viewed here.
(Source: Amnesty International)