Iraq's Child Prisoners
August 2, 2004 12:39 PM   Subscribe

Iraq's Child Prisoners 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.''
posted by y2karl (30 comments total)
A translation of the earlier Report Mainz article from Bellaciao:

An account of mistreatment of girls and boys in Iraqi prisons: “Undressing, blows and cold water”

A reporter with the Arab TV station Al-Jazeera, Suhaib Badr-Addin Al-Baz, himself prisoned for 74 days at Abu Ghreib, told REPORT MAINZ, how a 12 year old girl was knocked around by US soldiers. The Journalist was the first to inform about a prison camp for children. “When they brought me from the cell into the camp, there was an independent camp for children, young, below puberty. For sure there were hundreds of children in that camp.”

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) acknowleged the imprisonment of Iraqi children through foreign military personnell. REPORT MAINZ has available an internal report of the Children’s Fund, from which it becomes apparent that the occupation forces hold Iraqi children as prisoners of war in internment custody. Verbatim it says in the yet undisclosed report, dated June 2004: “Children, which were arrested for reasons of alleged activities against the occupation forces in Basra and Kerbala, were routinely handed over to an internment custody in Um Quasr, according to reports. The categorisation of such children as “internments”is alarming, as it means indetermined custody without contact to the family, the prospect of a process or trial.”

Additionally the UNICEF document mentiones a new established prison camp for children in Baghdad. In July 2003 UNICEF applied for a visit of this installation. However, UNICEF was barred from entering. Says the report: “Insufficient security within the premises of this prison camp” has banned independent observers “since December 2003”.

Also the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) confirms the internment of children and youngsters through the coalition forces; among others in the infamous torture prison of Abu Ghreib. Florian Westphal, speaker of the ICRC in Geneva, tild REPORT MAINZ: “Between January and May this year we registered 107 children, and this in the wake of 19 visits on six different prison premises. Here it needs to be emphasised that these are prison compounds who really are controlled by the coalition forces.” The number of prisoned children may well be higher than this.

posted by y2karl at 12:54 PM on August 2, 2004

"We hold fast to this: four sources confirm independently of one another, that occupation troops are holding children as prisoners. Two witnesses even report instances of maltreatment. The human rights organization Amnesty International is outraged over the reports of Iraqi child prisoners. Barbara Lochbihler of Amnesty International, Germany, calls for follow-up action.The U.S. government has to respond to this report, it must give concrete information about how old the children are, the grounds on which they have been detained, and under what circumstances they were incarcerated. And here we do not know the names of the children or how many children are there. That is scandalous."

"For a government that routinely lectures foreign countries on their human rights failings, this has been a very difficult year for the United States."

And from our brave allies...."The British government expressed "regret and sympathy" for the deaths of civilians in Iraq, but argued in court Thursday that it would be impossible to apply domestic and European human rights laws in Iraq."
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 12:59 PM on August 2, 2004

This is one of those points where even the most analytical, hardened SOB has to be shaking his head and asking: What can be gained from this?

Sure, you could, conceivably, use the kids as leverage (and indeed, some of the accounts here suggest that as the reason for keeping them). But do the people making policy decisions on this not believe that the word will get out? Do the interrogators -- or, really, the people who define the policy that lets the interrogators use any means necessary -- really believe that they're going to somehow win a battle of wills with "the Iraqi People"? Or even with "the insurgents" (whoever the hell they may be)? The massive preponderance of historical evidence weighs against them; they must have some powerful incentives to believe, if that is in fact what they do believe.

There was just never any way this could ever cause anythng but grief for all concerned. (Except for the contract interrogators, of course.)
posted by lodurr at 1:11 PM on August 2, 2004

The categorisation of these children as 'internees' is worrying since it implies indefinite holding without contact with family, expectation of trial or due process.''

Iraq is a warzone if you let your kids out alone you are either
(1) a negligent parent with no concern for your child's safety
(2) maliciously using your kid as a terror device (strapping bombs to the kid, using them as mules for guns, ammo, etc.)

It is well documented that kids are frequently pressed into armed service in guerilla warfare. These kids are probably safer in jail, where they may suffer abuse, than out in the wild running guns for unscrupulous adults.

Step 1: ensure fair treatment of prisoners, whether adult or child.
Step 2: determine if the children are safer in prison or at "home"
Step 3: release kids back to safe homes

I have an ancestor who felt strongly about fighting in the Union army during the US Civil war. The problem wasn't that he was 13 at the time (the recruiters were happy to look the other way), but that his dad was a prominent member of the community, and made it known that he didn't want his 13 year old child going off to war. So my ancestor caught a ride to the next county over, enlisted in the army, and somehow managed to survive. At *13*.
posted by Kwantsar at 1:37 PM on August 2, 2004

Oh well, it's like a big day care center then. With beatings. That makes me feel so much better.
posted by dragstroke at 1:44 PM on August 2, 2004

"'s like a big day care center then. With beatings."

Sounds like public school.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:58 PM on August 2, 2004

Kwanstar: apologize much? Would you be ok having your kids subject to this sort of treatment?
posted by bshort at 2:21 PM on August 2, 2004

Cognitive dissonance is a bitch, huh Kwantsar?
Expletive deleted.
posted by signal at 2:26 PM on August 2, 2004

shrub is evil.
posted by quonsar at 2:33 PM on August 2, 2004

Hey, you never know what could be hidden in that bowl of rice a child is offering....oh, sorry. Wrong war.
posted by junkbox at 2:52 PM on August 2, 2004

Won't somebody think of (freeing) the children?
posted by rushmc at 3:06 PM on August 2, 2004

Kwantsar, it is also well documented that Coalition troops, seeking suspected terrorists, will kidnap their family in order to place pressure on the suspect to come forward. How many children have probably fallen victim to this tactic? Given that the articles previously linked talk about how tortured children are used to break the spirits of fathers in detention (fathers who have an 80% likelihood of being innocent) , could it be that the blame is not on "negligent parents" but on overzealous security operations?
posted by bl1nk at 3:11 PM on August 2, 2004

Kwanstar: apologize much? Would you be ok having your kids subject to this sort of treatment?

If there was a big war on in the US, I had kids, and was living near the warzone then I would:
(1) try to get myself and family the hell out of the warzone
(2) if that fails, send the kids to family, friends, or decently friendly strangers as far from the warzone as possible

My freshman-year college roommate lived through much of the recent Yugoslavian civil war in Bosnia Herzegovina. This is the place where people from neighboring cities would rent guns on the weekends, hide in the hills around the city, and snipe the residents. Just like a video game, except the blood was real. The little kids were sent out of the city first. A few months later, the older kids were gone. My roommate was one of the last teenagers out of the city because his extended family managed to get out and into the USA early in the hostilities. It took his parents some time to get him out of the city, to europe, then on to the USA. They followed months later. Most of the other kids had family that lived nearby, and so could be secreted out more easily.

Sure, when I'm sitting with my powerbook on my lap enjoying the comfortable west-coast summer, "day care center ... With beatings," sounds like an unthinkable experience for any kid. When the alternative is playing tag with automatic weapons and explosives, daycar with beatings doesn't look bad.

The problem with war is that you are faced with options like "terrible, nasty, horrible, unthinkable hell" or "horribly terrible, nasty, unthinkable painful hell." It's why liberal democracies should do everything they can to avoid getting involved with war. We just can't stomach the options and make sane decisions.

So, prohibit child torture, punish the guards who are using the kids as leverage. But do some careful investigation before you let the kids back out onto the street. Your kindness may be their death sentence.
posted by Kwantsar at 4:11 PM on August 2, 2004

13People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." 16And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.


37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
posted by matteo at 4:12 PM on August 2, 2004

"For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere."
-- Kurt Vonnegut
posted by matteo at 4:16 PM on August 2, 2004


1) The entire country is a warzone and you have
a) no job
b) no money
c) no transportation

2) Your family and friends also live in the warzone

3) Unlikely that anybody is getting sent out of the city, to Europe or the USA (see 1 a), b) and c)

My grandfather had to flee Spain at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil war because he was a Red. Oh, wait that has nothing to do with anything. Iraqi parents should entrust their children to the good people Abu-Graib. But first, prohibit child torture, and punish the guards.

Yeah, I disagree with your, uh, analysis.
posted by sic at 4:29 PM on August 2, 2004

American liberation of Iraqis from brutallity in their homeland =

(1) try to get myself and family the hell out of the warzone
(2) if that fails, send the kids to family, friends, or decently friendly strangers as far from the warzone as possible

Good advice to Iraqis and American families, I would presume. Glad we got that cleared up.
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:20 PM on August 2, 2004

Are these the children being raped on video or are these other children?
posted by sudama at 6:42 PM on August 2, 2004

Kwanstar, I'd address your argument but sic did a much better job.
posted by bshort at 6:56 PM on August 2, 2004

Back on what I suspect is the more direct concern of karl's post : will further acknowledgement of this atrocity serve to push public knowledge of it past the intentionally averted gaze of US mainstream media ?
posted by troutfishing at 9:45 PM on August 2, 2004

i'd just like to say that i am not Kwantsar.
posted by quonsar at 11:26 PM on August 2, 2004

Matteo - thanks for the scripture and the Vonnegut quote - it's a nice reminder that the people who are behind this entire fiasco are not true christians.
posted by rks404 at 1:29 AM on August 3, 2004

will further acknowledgement of this atrocity serve to push public knowledge of it past the intentionally averted gaze of US mainstream media ?
posted by troutfishing at 9:45 PM PST on August 2

Probably not.
Too damn liberal and all.
You know how those bleeding heart liberals are, they just don't give a damn about anyone else but themselves.
Oh, wait, maybe that's wrong!
Perhaps actually presenting this on mainstream news doesn't serve the corporate interests? Naa!!! Quit trying to make us think troutfishing!! You'll make the little brains hurt. Now, what's on TV today?

Thanks for the quotes matteo, you are quite right correct rks404.
posted by nofundy at 5:18 AM on August 3, 2004

True Christians are a fine bunch. Around my parts, they seem rare as hens teeth, but then again - they're very difficult to spot from among the general population for the fact that they are humble, don't put on airs, and don't like to call attention to themselves.

nofundy - My local "Only 25% Disinformation !" public radio station is ignoring this, that's fer darn tootin' . ( Fox, in comparison BTW, has a 75% Disinfo quotient - per a PIPA study )
posted by troutfishing at 9:09 AM on August 3, 2004

Iraq Jail Chief Says Prisoner Abuse Covered Up
Speaking on the same day a U.S. soldier at the center of the prisoner abuse scandal is due to face a military court, Brigadier-General Janis Karpinski said she was deliberately kept in the dark about abuse and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners.

"A very reliable witness has made a statement indicating that, not only was I not included in any of the meetings discussing interrogation operations, but specific measures were taken to ensure I would not have access to those facilities, that information or any of the details of interrogation at Abu Ghraib or anywhere else," Karpinski told Britain's BBC radio...

She said that those with "full knowledge" of what was going on in Abu Ghraib worked to keep her from discovering the truth.

Asked if a cover-up meant involvement of the White House or Pentagon, she said: "I have not seen the statement but the indication is it may have."...

Karpinski told the BBC she never personally witnessed abuse at Abu Ghraib or at any of the prisons she commanded.

She has also said she was told by a military intelligence commander that detainees should be "treated like dogs."

posted by y2karl at 9:10 AM on August 3, 2004

that detainees should be "treated like dogs."

how ironic that dogs are among the ten things Islam considers najis (impure) -- the other nine being urine, faeces, semen, dead body, blood, dog, pig, kafir (an infidel), liquor, the sweat of an animal that eats najasat (unclean things).
posted by matteo at 10:22 AM on August 3, 2004

Doctors and Torture

There is increasing evidence that U.S. doctors, nurses, and medics have been complicit in torture and other illegal procedures in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay. Such medical complicity suggests still another disturbing dimension of this broadening scandal.

We know that medical personnel have failed to report to higher authorities wounds that were clearly caused by torture and that they have neglected to take steps to interrupt this torture. In addition, they have turned over prisoners' medical records to interrogators who could use them to exploit the prisoners' weaknesses or vulnerabilities. We have not yet learned the extent of medical involvement in delaying and possibly falsifying the death certificates of prisoners who have been killed by torturers.

A May 22 article on Abu Ghraib in the New York Times states that "much of the evidence of abuse at the prison came from medical documents" and that records and statements "showed doctors and medics reporting to the area of the prison where the abuse occurred several times to stitch wounds, tend to collapsed prisoners or see patients with bruised or reddened genitals."1 According to the article, two doctors who gave a painkiller to a prisoner for a dislocated shoulder and sent him to an outside hospital recognized that the injury was caused by his arms being handcuffed and held over his head for "a long period," but they did not report any suspicions of abuse. A staff sergeant–medic who had seen the prisoner in that position later told investigators that he had instructed a military policeman to free the man but that he did not do so. A nurse, when called to attend to a prisoner who was having a panic attack, saw naked Iraqis in a human pyramid with sandbags over their heads but did not report it until an investigation was held several months later.

A June 10 article in the Washington Post tells of a long-standing policy at the Guantanamo Bay facility whereby military interrogators were given access to the medical records of individual prisoners. The policy was maintained despite complaints by the Red Cross that such records "are being used by interrogators to gain information in developing an interrogation plan." A civilian psychiatrist who was part of a medical review team was "disturbed" about not having been told about the practice and said that it would give interrogators "tremendous power" over prisoners.

Other reports, though sketchier, suggest that the death certificates of prisoners who might have been killed by various forms of mistreatment have not only been delayed but may have camouflaged the fatal abuse by attributing deaths to conditions such as cardiovascular disease.

Various medical protocols — notably, the World Medical Association Declaration of Tokyo in 1975 — prohibit all three of these forms of medical complicity in torture. Moreover, the Hippocratic Oath declares, "I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrongdoing."

posted by y2karl at 11:14 AM on August 3, 2004

A Battle Over Blame

...Rumsfeld has been widely criticized for paring down the occupation force for Iraq. Until now, however, that criticism has rarely extended to the prison-abuse issue. But some commissioners believe that the 800th Military Police Brigade, which ran the Iraqi prison system, was badly overstretched and not trained well for detention duty. Previously, the brigade's 372nd MP Company—the main culprit in the Abu Ghraib abuses—had served as traffic cops.

Some on the commission also believe that Rumsfeld and senior officials failed early on to set up clear, baseline rules for interrogations—an ethical "stop" sign, in a sense. This opened the way to abuse in an atmosphere in which President George W. Bush and senior officials were demanding that interrogators obtain better intel and were openly questioning the Geneva Conventions. The lack of direction from the top created confusion at Abu Ghraib and other prisons, according to testimony heard by the Schlesinger commission. Documents indicate that interrogation officials often undercut or ignored Army Field Manual 34-52, the standard doctrine setting interrogation guidelines in conformance with Geneva. One example is a classified assessment of Army detention operations in Iraq done in the late summer of 2003—a copy of which was obtained by NEWSWEEK. While the author, the then Gitmo commander Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, refers at one point to "providing a humane environment," he does not mention Geneva protections or the field manual when he recommends that MPs "set conditions" for "successful exploitation of the internees."

The Schlesinger commission report is one of several slated for completion in the doldrums of mid-August, when few people are paying attention. But the report won't be the final word on abuse. The Senate Armed Services Committee will likely hold hearings in the fall, despite administration pressure on the chairman, Sen. John Warner, to wrap his investigation up quickly. And those hearings—with help from the Schlesinger team—could well determine how history will view Rumsfeld's tenure.

posted by y2karl at 10:05 PM on August 3, 2004

Guantanamo prisoners 'tortured and humiliated'

Washington: Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay were subjected to Abu Ghraib-style torture and sexual humiliation in which they were stripped naked, forced to sodomise one another and taunted by naked female US soldiers, according to a new report.

Some of the abuse has been captured on videotape.

Based on the testimony of former prisoners, the report details a brutal yet carefully choreographed regime at the US prison camp in which abuse was meted out in a manner judged to have the "maximum impact".

Those prisoners with the most conservative Muslim backgrounds were the most likely to be subjected to sexual humiliation and abuse, while those from Westernised backgrounds were more likely to suffer solitary confinement and physical mistreatment.

In addition to the sexual and physical humiliation, the report also details how prisoners had their religion mocked.

"There was a clear policy to try to force people to abandon their religious faith," says one extract of the report.

The report also details how prisoners were injected with unknown drugs during interrogation sessions and were told they would only receive medicine if they co-operated with interrogators.

The abuse detailed in the report, compiled by a group of British and American lawyers and being released today in New York by the Centre for Constitutional Rights, is likely to trigger fresh outrage about the way the US military treats prisoners.

posted by y2karl at 10:22 PM on August 3, 2004

Abu Ghraib, USA
posted by homunculus at 8:19 PM on August 4, 2004

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