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IRAQ: Detained Children Abuse Allegations Surface

IRAQ: Unicef ‘Profoundly Disturbed’ By Allegations Of Abuse Of Detained Children

The United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF) is profoundly disturbed by news reports alleging that children might have been among those abused in detention centres and prisons in Iraq, a spokesman said today.

“Although the news reports have not been independently substantiated, they are alarming nonetheless,” UNICEF spokesman Damien Personnaz told a news briefing in Geneva, adding that any mistreatment, sexual abuse, exploitation or torture of children in detention is a violation of international law.

Mr. Personnaz’s statement was the latest reaction by a UN body to widely disseminated reports and photographs of abuse of detainees by United States-led coalition personnel in Iraq. Last week Acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Bertrand Ramcharan expressed revulsion regarding the reports and photographs.

The detention or imprisonment of a child must be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time, and for their safety and protection children should never be incarcerated with adults, Mr. Personnaz said.

“All persons in detention must be treated with humanity and with respect for their inherent dignity as human beings,” he added. “In particular, States had an obligation to protect children and to ensure that their officials were aware of, trained in, and complied with the relevant international standards.”

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