Iraqi Kurdistan denies HRW report on torturing children

09.01.2019

The Iraqi autonomous region of Kurdistan has denied statements by Human Rights Watch (HRW) that Kurdish forces torture children who are charged or convicted of Islamic State affiliation.

The co-ordinator for international advocacy in Kurdistan's regional government, Dindar Zebari, said all those arrested "are treated according to the law."

"Those younger than 18 years and suspected of being former members of Daesh, are treated as victims of Daesh not as criminals," he said. He denied HRW's accusation that detainees do not enjoy legal rights and said the organisation never visited the detention facility.

In a report released earlier on Tuesday, HRW said it interviewed 20 boys, aged 14 to 17, charged or convicted of Islamic State affiliation, at the Women and Children's Reformatory in Erbil in November 2018. The group also interviewed three boys who had recently been released.

The children said "in 2017 and 2018, security officers, known as Asayish, used beatings, stress positions and electric shock on boys in their custody."

Sixteen of the 23 children said officers had tortured them during interrogation, "beating them all over their bodies with plastic pipes, electric cables, or rods."

The group said most of the interviewees said they had no access to a lawyer and they were not allowed to read the confessions that security forces wrote and forced them to sign.

The rights group said the children's accounts were similar to those given by other boys held for alleged association with Islamic State at the same detention centre in December 2016.    (dpa)

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