An account of mistreatment of girls and boys in Iraqi prisons:
“Undressing, blows and cold water”
Internal UNICEF report: USA intern children for an indefinite time without legal process
MAINZ. According to inquiries undertaken by the ARD political magazine REPORT MAINZ, indications increase that, within Iraqi prisons, US soldiers even mistreated children and youngsters. Two different sources independently recorded the inhuman treatment of imprisoned minors within the premises of the scandalous prison Abu Ghreib, according to REPORT MAINZ.
Samuel Provance, sergeant of the military secret service, and who was stationed at Abu Ghreib, in an exclusive interview with REPORT MAINZ reported that US interrogation specialists importuned a girl inside her cell. Military police did not intervene until the 15 to 16 year odl girl was half naked.
According to Provance, a 16 year old boy was showered with water and then driven through the cold (night). Afterwards they “smeared” the boy “with mud” and presented him to his father who was prisoned as well. “After he saw his son in such condition his heart broke”, says Provance. “He cried and promised to tell everything he knew”.
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.
According to the internal UNICEF report the Children’s Fund “via a variety of channels” tries to find out more in regard to the internment conditions of childrens, and “to ensure that their rights do not get infringed”.
The British Ministry of Defence informed REPORT MAINZ not to keep any imprisoned children in Iraq at this time. The US Ministry of Defence until now did not show any reaction towards a submitted request.
The Human Rights Organisation Amnesty International in REPORT MAINZ demands clarification about internments of children. Barbara Lochbihler, general secretary of the German section, declared: “The US government has to reply to this report. It has to provide precise information: How old are the children, what are the reasons for internment, what were the circumstances of them being taken prisoners, and whether children were subjected to torture and mistreatment.”
Barbara Lochbihler further: “The report is dated June 2004 and what is infuriating is that those US persons in charge and the governments seem not to have taken it up in earnest to throw light on such incidents. (...) And here we even do not know the names of the children, how many children we talk about. Independent inspections are unwanted. This is scandalous.”
Also the internal UNICEF document displays severe criticism towards the practice of internment by the occupation forces. Verbatim it says: “The perceived unjustified internment of male Iraqis, including minors, on suspicion of activities against the occupation forces, has become a major reason for the growing frustration among male youngsters and a potential for radicalisation among this part of the population.”