International Law

US Now Holding 500 Juveniles in Iraq; Was Holding 2,500

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In a report to a United Nations committee, the United States says it is holding 500 juveniles, apparently in adult detention facilities, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2002, a total of some 2,500 have reportedly been detained as suspected “unlawful enemy combatants.”

“A total of 2,500 youths under the age of 18 have been detained, almost all in Iraq, for periods up to a year or more in President Bush’s anti-terrorism campaign since 2002,” writes the Associated Press.

The situation was denounced by civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and International Justice Network, as a shocking violation of U.S. treaty obligations.

Officials say almost all of those held are 16 or 17. They were captured planting bombs, fighting against anti-coalition forces or acting as lookouts, according to officials.

However, “it remains uncertain the exact age of these individuals, as most of them did not know their date of birth or even the year they were born,” says the report submitted last week to the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child.

U.S. military doctors believe three of the juvenile detainees were under age 16, according to AP.

Additional coverage:

ACLU (press release): “New Government Report Reveals 2,500 Youths Held In Military Custody Abroad”

Washington Post: “US Has Detained 2,500 Juveniles as Enemy Combatants”

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