Children Detainees in Iraq?
“Save the Children” is intervening with Coalition members in Iraq in an attempt to secure the release of an estimated 100 Iraqi children being held as detainees.
The US military and possibly Coalition partners have in many cases taken women and children hostage in order to force their male relatives among the guerrillas to surrender. Since this practice is a form of collective punishment and was undertaken while the Coalition occupied Iraq, it is a war crime.
The German press broke the story on Monday. The German news magazine Der Spiegel writes:
IRAQ: US soldiers are said to have abused arrested children.
More than hundred children have been detained in Iraqi prisons–including the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, according to information provided by the international red cross. According to the TV magazine show “Report” Coalition troops are may also have abused children and young people. “Between January and May we registered altogether 107 children, during 19 visits at six different prisons”, the spokesman of the International Red Cross (IKRK), Florian Westphal, said in a Geneva interview with the SWR magazine “Report Mainz”. She said that these places of detention were controlled by coalition troops. The number of the children imprisoned held could also be higher, according to Westphal. In addition, the TV magazine reported references and testimonies, according to which US soldiers in Iraqi prisons also abused children and young people.
The report continues, “Samuel Provance, a staff sergeant stationed in the now infamous Abu Ghraib prison said that interrogating officers had pressured a 15 or 16 year old girl. Military police had only intervened when the girl was already half undressed. On another occasion, a 16 year old was soaked with water, driven through the cold, and then smeared with mud.”
Nir Rosen, who has reported from the field in Iraq for the past year and is an expert Arabist, noted that
‘ It is common practice for soldiers to arrest the wives and children of suspects as “material witnesses” when the suspects are not captured in raids. In some cases the soldiers leave notes for the suspects, letting them know their families will be released should they turn themselves in. Soldiers claim this is a very effective tactic. ‘