US regrets need to detain Iraqi children-envoy

By | May 21, 2008

The United States accused Iraqi extremists on Tuesday of using children to attack government and coalition forces, forcing authorities to detain them.

Last week, the United States told the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child that since 2002 it had detained some 2,500 people under age 18, mostly in Iraq, often for a year or more, as part of its anti-terrorism campaign.

“We’re heartbroken that terrorists and extremists use kids for their campaign of violence,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters after a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on peace-building after wars.

“It’s very unfortunate that insurgents, terrorists, use young people in their campaign of violence and as a result … we’ve had to detain young people who should be in school learning and preparing for a productive life,” he said.

However, he said the United States treated such children with “sensitivity” and attended to their psychological and educational needs.

“(We) keep them apart from adults and work with communities and their families,” he added.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, special representative of the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for children and armed conflict, said last month that there were currently 1,500 children in detention in Iraq, the youngest 10 years old.

Of those, 500 were in U.S. military detention and the rest in Iraqi custody, she said. (Reporting by Louis Charbonneau, editing by Alan Elsner) – reuters

This is disgusting. There is no “sensitivity” that makes up for keeping a child in a military prison. Free the children and put them in school.

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