Hundreds of Iraqi Daesh child suspects arrested: human rights group

Women and children sit outside a Kurdish screening center to determine if they are associated with Daesh in this October 3, 2017 photo taken in Dibis, Iraq. (AP)
Updated 06 March 2019
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Hundreds of Iraqi Daesh child suspects arrested: human rights group

  • Iraqi and Kurdish authorities are holding approximately 1,500 children for alleged Daesh affiliation at the end of 2018
  • Iraq declared victory against Daesh in December 2017 after three years of bloody battles

IRBIL, Iraq: Iraq and the Kurdish regional government have charged hundreds of children with terrorism for alleged affiliation with the Daesh group, often using torture to coerce confessions, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.
In a report, the New York-based group estimated that Iraqi and Kurdish authorities were holding approximately 1,500 children for alleged Daesh affiliation in detention at the end of 2018. It said the prosecutions are often based on dubious accusations and forced confessions obtained through torture.
The children are then sentenced to prison in hasty and unfair trials, HRW said.
Belkis Wille, senior Iraq researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the approach that Iraq has adopted is one that “completely fails” to acknowledge what is commonly understood and reflected in international law, which is that children who were forcibly recruited should be treated as victims, not criminals.
Iraq declared victory against Daesh in December 2017 after three years of bloody battles that killed tens of thousands and left Iraqi cities in ruins. The country is grappling with a massive legacy from the fight, which includes thousands of detainees, including children, who are being sentenced in rushed trials
“Children accused of affiliation with IS are being detained, and often tortured and prosecuted, regardless of their actual level of involvement with the group,” said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director for HRW. “This sweeping punitive approach is not justice, and will create lifelong negative consequences for many of these children.”
The report said kids recruited by armed groups should be recognized primarily as victims who should be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society.
The 52-page report, entitled “Everyone Must Confess’: Abuses against Children Suspected of Daesh Affiliation in Iraq,” criticized what it described as a deeply flawed screening process that often leads to detention and prosecution of children regardless of whether they have any involvement with Daesh, or the extent of that involvement.
It cites the case of a 17-year-old detainee, who said he worked at a restaurant in Mosul that served Daesh members, and believed that his name appeared on a “wanted” list because Daesh took his identification so he could be paid.
“What we see are extremely brief trials in the cases of these boys. Every single one of these trials proceeded solely on the basis of the confession that was produced by their interrogation, often with the use of torture,” Wille said.
“After the trial is done, usually in ... five-minute or a 10-minute period, they receive their sentence and they return to prison.”


US bolsters Middle East force with 1,500 troops as Pentagon blames Iran for tanker attacks

Updated 9 min 25 sec ago
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US bolsters Middle East force with 1,500 troops as Pentagon blames Iran for tanker attacks

  • Donald Trump says the additional troops would serve a 'mostly protective' role
  • The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region earlier this month

WASHINGTON: The US will strengthen its force in the Middle East with 1,500 extra troops, Donald Trump said Friday as the Pentagon blamed Iran for an attack on oil tankers off the coast of the UAE.

"We want to have protection in the Middle East," Trump said as he left the White House for a trip to Japan. "We're going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective.
"Some very talented people are going to the Middle East right now. And we'll see what happens."

Shortly after his comments, the Pentagon accused Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) of being directly responsible for attacks on tankers off the UAE earlier this month, describing it as part of a "campaign" by Tehran driving new US deployments.
"The attack against the shipping in Fujairah we attribute it to the IRGC," said Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, the director of the Joint Staff, adding the Pentagon attributed limpet mines used in the attack to the IRGC. He declined to describe "the means of delivery" of the mines.

The 1,500 extra troops will be made up of a deployment of 900 more forces, including engineers, and the extension of a tour by some 600 personnel manning Patriot missiles.

Officials said earlier that members of Congress were notified following a White House meeting Thursday to discuss Pentagon proposals to bolster the force in the region.
Earlier this week, officials said that Pentagon planners had outlined plans that could have sent up to 10,000 military reinforcements to the region. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan later said planners had not settled on a figure.
The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region this month in response to what it said was a threat from Iran.

*With AP and Reuters