Iraq children tortured for alleged ISIL ties: HRW
BAGHDAD- Agence France-Presse
Iraqi authorities are prosecuting children suspected of ties to the ISIL in a "deeply flawed" process, using flimsy accusations or confessions obtained through torture, Human Rights Watch said on March 6.
The rights group's extensive report was based on interviews with 29 Iraqi children who are current or former detainees in the Kurdish Regional Government, as well as relatives, prison guards, and judicial sources.
Iraq announced it defeated ISIL in late 2017, but has continued to try men, women, and children, including foreigners, accused of belonging to the group.
"The screening, investigation, and prosecution of children as ISIL suspects by Iraqi and KRG authorities is deeply flawed, often leading to arbitrary detention and unfair trials," HRW wrote.
It found many boys were arrested from camps or checkpoints based on weak evidence.
They were beaten, subject to electric shocks, denied access to relatives or legal representation, and coerced into admitting ISIL membership even if they had never joined the jihadists, it said.
While ISIL did widely recruit and indoctrinate children, having some carry out executions, most of those interviewed by HRW said they never fought with the group.
They were tried without lawyers, in hearings that lasted no more than ten minutes and were conducted in Kurdish, a language the Arabic-speaking boys could not understand.
Federal courts, meanwhile, sentenced children to up to 15 years in jail, often in overcrowded prisons alongside adults, in violation of international standards.