Human Rights Watch slams US treatment of imprisoned kids in Iraq, Guantanamao Bay

June 9th, 2008 - 3:44 pm ICT by ANI  

New York , June 9 (ANI): Human Rights Watch, a US-based group of lawyers, journalists, academics, and HR experts, has said that the American administration should immediately implement the recommendations of a new UN report calling on Washington to improve its treatment of children involved in armed conflict.

At present, the US is currently detaining more than 500 children as imperative security risks in Iraq , where they are subjected to interrogations, without access to lawyers. In some cases, they are held for more than a year without charge, in violation of the US own regulations.

Besides, the US is also holding three detainees in Guantanamo Bay prison. They were apprehended as juveniles, and have been in custody for more than five years now.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child had issued a report last evening criticizing the US for its treatment of children detained in Iraq and Guantanamo, abuses by military recruiters in the US, and inadequate protections for former child soldiers seeking asylum in the US. The report urged the US to adopt a range of legal and policy reforms, and to expedite federal legislation that would allow for the prosecution of child recruiters abroad and limit US military assistance to governments involved in the use of child soldiers.

Jo Becker, childrens rights advocate for Human Rights Watch, said: The US has been a leader in changing its military deployment policies to keep soldiers out of combat until age 18. However, its treatment of children apprehended on the battlefield sets a bad example for the rest of the world and violates childrens rights.

The US is also holding three detainees in Guantanamo who were apprehended as juveniles. They have been in custody for more than five years. Two of the Guantanamo detainees, Omar Khadr and Mohammed Jawad, are both facing trials before a US military commission. The third, Mohammad El-Gharani, now 21, has been held in Guantanamo since age 15 and has reportedly tried to commit suicide at least seven times.

The UN committee said it was concerned over reports of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of children held in Guantanamo and Iraq, and that children who were recruited or used in armed conflict, rather than being considered primarily as victims, are classified as unlawful enemy combatants and have been charged with war crimes and subject to prosecution by military tribunals, without due account of their status as children.

It specifically recommended that children should not be held in Guantanamo Bay prison and that criminal proceedings against children within the military justice system should be avoided.

Noting that the US is the worlds largest arms exporter, the Committee called on Washington to prohibit sales of arms to countries where children are used as soldiers. It also urged it to adopt two pieces of legislation pending in Congress — the Child Soldier Prevention Act, which would restrict US military assistance to governments involved in the recruitment and use of child soldiers, and the Child Soldiers Accountability Act, which would enable the US to prosecute individuals for recruiting or using children under the age of 15 as soldiers, whether in the US or abroad.

The UN Committee expressed concern regarding the treatment of former child soldiers seeking refugee status or asylum in the US, and urged the US to recognize the recruitment and use of children as soldiers as a form of persecution and grounds for refugee status.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child is the UN body of experts responsible for monitoring countries compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two optional protocols, including the protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict. The US ratified the optional protocols in 2002, but is one of only two countries in the world that has not ratified the main Convention on the Rights of the Child. Somalia being the other. (ANI)

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