The US army admitted Monday for the first time to
having detained adolescents in its prisons in Iraq,
according to a German press report.
The popular TV magazine “Report Mainz,”
broadcast Monday evening, quoted Lieutenant Colonel
Barry Johnson, a spokesman for the US troops in Iraq,
as saying that they still imprisoned 58 Iraqis in
the age of from 14 and 17. The program had previously
reported July 5 that 117 children had been held during
the period of January through May.
The Iraqi adolescents are held in the prisons of
Abu Ghraib and"Camp Bucca” and the length
of their average imprisonment is half a year, Johnson
In an independent report, Lieutenant Colonel Joe
Yoswa, a spokesman for the Defense Department allegedly
confirmed that the U.S. military is holding 58 juveniles.
None of them are female, he said.
In the report, published by Arkansas Indymedia, he
stated that the U.S. does imprison children in sweeps
made by patrols in Iraq.
Whole families are arrested
and taken from their homes in the middle of the night,
the report said.
The families are taken before a “committee”
who then decides who to release and who to imprison,
according to the report. The highest ranking officer
on the “committee” is a Colonel.
On the German television magazine, Johnson denied
that those adolescents were tortured and promised
that US authorities would look into accusation of
mishandling if it arose.
Quoting sources from the International Red Cross
and the UN Children’s Fund, the “Report
Mainz” reported on July 5 that US troops had
detained Iraqi adolescents for so-called anti-occupation
activities and often mistreated them. The German chapter
of the Amnesty International hascalled for an independent
investigation into the allegations of torturing Iraqi
adolescents by American soldiers. UNICEF refused to
go on the record publicly, saying that they fear for
the safety of their workers in Iraq.
On the earlier program, they quoted U.S. Sergeant
Samuel Provance about the torture of a 16-year-old.
“He was full of fear, very alone. He had the
thinnest little arms that I have ever seen. His whole
body shook. His wrists were so thin that we could
not put handcuffs on him. As soon as I saw him for
the first time and led him to the interrogation, I
felt sorry for him. The interrogation specialists
doused him with water and put him in a truck. Then
they drove with him throughout the night, and at that
time it was very, very cold. Then they smeared him
with mud and showed him to his
likewise imprisoned father. With him [the father]
they had tried out other interrogation methods.
But they had not succeeded in making him talk. The
interrogation specialists told me that after the
father had seen his son in that condition, it broke
his heart. He wept and promised to tell them what
they wanted to know.”
An Iraqi TV reporter, Suhaib Badr-Addin Al-Baz, told
a reporter for the German daily Der Spiegel that he
had seen the prisons with his own eyes shortly after
the original “Report Mainz” report.
“There I saw a camp for children. Young, under
the age of puberty. In this camp were certainly hundreds
of children. Some of them have been released, others
are definitely still in there.”
From his solitary cell in the adults’ wing,
Suhaib heard a perhaps 12-year-old girl weeping. Later
he learned that her brother was on the third floor
of the prison. One or two times, says Suhaib, he saw
In the night, according to Suhaib, they were with
her in her cell. The girl shreeked out to the other
prisoners and called out to her brother.
“She was beaten,” he said. “I
heard her call: ‘They have undressed me.
They have poured water over me.’”