Norway protests child abuse in Iraq

6 July 2004, AFTENPOSTEN

Norwegian authorities reacted with shock and disgust Tuesday to a documentary on German TV that American soldiers allegedly have been holding children in prisons in Iraq, and abusing them as well. The Norwegians joined the Red Cross and Amnesty International in calling for an immediate end to the abuse, and release of the underage prisoners, some of whom are as young as 12 years.

In one case, a girl around age 15 was said to have been shoved up against a wall by a group of male soldiers who proceeded to manhandle her. They then started ripping off her clothes, and she was half-naked before military police broke in.

In another case, a boy aged 15 or 16 was stripped naked and sprayed with water before being placed in an open truck and driven around in the cold night air last winter. He then was covered with mud.

"These types of attacks are absolutely unacceptable," said a spokesman for Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik. "They violate international law and are morally indefensible."

Odd Jostein Sæter of the prime minister's office told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) Tuesday that Norwegian officials will react "both politically and diplomatically" to their US counterparts.

Neither the imprisonment nor abuse of children "can be tolerated," Sæter said.

"We will take this up in a very sharp and direct way and make concrete demands," he said on national radio, adding that such practices "damage the struggle for democracy and human rights in Iraq."

Norwegian authorities plan to review other reports of the abuse by both Amnesty International and Red Cross in detail.

The head of Amnesty International in Norway said Tuesday that Norway should not continue its military cooperation with the US after the reports of child "torture" were revealed.

Most of the more than 100 minors still believed to be held in American-controlled prisons in Iraq were taken into custody after US forces raided their homes.

& from Denmark (via Australia)

10 July 2004, Denmark pressed to seek probe into reports of Iraqi child torture

The Danish-based International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) has urged the Copenhagen Government to demand an investigation by the US-led coalition forces in Iraq into allegations that children there were being imprisoned and tortured.

The demand comes three days after a similar appeal to the Danish Government, which is part of the US-led military coalition in oil-rich Iraq, from the Danish section of the international aid agency Save the Children.

That appeal received no response.

"The Danish Government has to speak out now that these rumours have been confirmed by a recent documentary on Germany's ARD television on the degrading treatment meted out to children imprisoned in Iraq, in violation of international conventions," IRCT spokesman Tue Magnussen told AFP.

"The foreign minister should respond to these allegations, even if he is on holiday. He should follow the example of the Norwegian Government, which recently said the torture and abuse of children were totally unacceptable and called for an immediate inquiry," he said.

ARD earlier aired a documentary called Report Mainz which alleged there were 100 children incarcerated in jails run by the US and British military in Iraq.

It said some had been mistreated and been deprived of their most basic rights.

This came after the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) raised the alarm in May that children may have been abused in Iraqi jails.

"Denmark, as a pioneer in the fight against torture, has a particular obligation to say loud and clear that mistreatment, especially of minors, is unacceptable and to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice, even if they are faithful allies," he Magnussen said.

The IRCT, which set up the world's first rehabilitation centre for torture victims in Copenhagen in 1982, announced on June 1 it had been invited to coordinate international efforts to provide more such facilities for Iraqi victims of abuse.

Red Barnet, the Danish branch of Save the Children, urged the Government to urgently seek a commitment from its military partners in Iraq to stop imprisoning children.

"The coalition forces, which include Danish troops, should ensure these children are freed or placed under conditions that respect international conventions," Red Barnet said.

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