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News > World

Iraq: Children Tortured in Kurdish Jails, Activist Group Says

  • Members of the Kurdish peshmerga forces gather in the town of Sinjar, Iraq November 13, 2015.

    Members of the Kurdish peshmerga forces gather in the town of Sinjar, Iraq November 13, 2015. | Photo: Reuters file

Published 9 January 2019

Kurdish security forces still torturing children to extract testimonies incriminating them as forming part of ISIS, HRW says.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) report stated that security forces in Kurdish regions of Iraq have been and continue to torture children in order to gain confessions regarding links to ISIS.

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The report is based on interviews conducted with 20 boys between the ages of 14 and 17 who have either been charged or convicted of forming part of ISIS, by security forces.  The report also indicated that 16 of the boys recounted being “tortured” during the interrogations conducted in the Women and Children’s Reformatory in Erbil.

The so-called “Asayish” forces allegedly applied electric shocks and beat the children with plastic pipes, electric bales or rods, in order to extract confessions, the HRW disclosed. There were also reports of children being tied in strenuous positions such as “the scorpion” for long periods of time.

An alarm, about the abuse, was first raised two years ago. 

The minors reported receiving threats, from interrogators, including one stating that “if you don’t tell us the truth, I will call the guys and they will beat you and break your bones,” according to a 17-year old boy.

The juveniles were being held in a security facility - with no form of legal aid - in Kurdistan, without the country’s justice authorities having any knowledge of their whereabouts. During the period they were held, the children were made to sign confessions which they were not permitted to read.

“Nearly two years after the Kurdistan Regional Government promised to investigate the torture of child detainees, it is still occurring with alarming frequency,” said the Children’s Rights Advocate from HRW Jo Becker.

The purpose of the interrogations and the torture seems to have been to force the children to confess to ISIS membership. “Most said they had no access to a lawyer and they were not allowed to read the confessions Asayesh wrote and forced them to sign.”

In some instances, the only way for the children to stop the torture was to confess to crimes they did not commit.

Kurdish officials dismissed the allegations of torturing children to extract confessions: “No one can be arrested unless the judiciary authorizes it. And any person who has been arrested is treated in accordance with the law,” the international affairs adviser to the Kurdish Government, Dindar Zebari, said.

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