According to Human Rights Watch (HRW) seventeen children who have been detained since July 2016 by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on suspicion of connections to the Islamic State (IS) group have been subjected to torture.
According to the HRW report, the children aged between 11 and 17, who have not been formally charged with a crime, recount being held in stress positions, burned with cigarettes, beaten, shocked with electricity and beaten with plastic pipes on grounds of “their connections to IS”.
None of the children had access to a lawyer during interrogation, and most have not been permitted contact with family members since their detention, in some cases for months. The legal basis for the detention of the children remained unclear, suggesting they were being detained arbitrarily, the report claimed.
According to the report, more than 180 children under the age of 18 are currently being held by the authorities and government officials have not informed their families of where their children are being kept.
The Islamic State group’s use of child soldiers has been documented by various organisations. The group even issues propaganda of its “Cubs of the Caliphate” program in which children living under IS control are trained to be soldiers. Children sent as suicide bombers wearing explosive belts have been captured in Iraq on numerous occasions.