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UN Report Finds Unfair Trials, Torture, Overreliance on Confessions

Over the past two years, Iraqi courts have processed more than 20,000 terrorism cases against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) suspects, including hundreds of children. But a new United Nations report finds that far from…
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Children Should Be Rehabilitated, Reintegrated

(Geneva) – Iraqi and Kurdistan Regional Government authorities have charged hundreds of children with terrorism for alleged Islamic State (also known as ISIS) affiliation, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The prosecutions are…
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  Summary “Nasim” grew up in Mosul, Iraq, and attended school for five years until the Islamic State (ISIS) took control of the city in 2014. Nasim, who was 13 at the time, didn’t like the curriculum ISIS imposed in his school, so he dropped…
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He was just a 14-year-old schoolboy when the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) took over his city, Mosul, in northern Iraq. His school soon shut down. With little else to do, he said, he joined ISIS to make money. He said he received twenty days of…
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Beatings, Electric Shock to Coerce ISIS Confessions

(Beirut) – The Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq is torturing children to confess to involvement with the Islamic State (ISIS), Human Rights Watch said today.  Children told Human Rights Watch that in…
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Forces in Northeast Issue Order to Prohibit Recruitment, Verify Ages

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of forces controlling parts of Syria’s northeast, has taken an important step towards ending the use of child soldiers in their ranks. The SDF issued a military order banning the…
Ain Issa displaced persons camp, one of three camps in northeast Syria where Human Rights Watch found the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) have been recruiting children for military participation, June 2017.
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People’s Protection Units Enlist Under 18s from Vulnerable Families

(Beirut) – The People’s Protection Units (YPG), the largest member of the Syrian Democratic Forces military alliance in northeast Syria, has been recruiting children, including girls, and using some in hostilities despite pledges to…
Ain Issa displaced persons camp, one of three camps in northeast Syria where Human Rights Watch found the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) have been recruiting children for military participation, June 2017.
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State Department Restores Burma and Iraq to its Annual List of Violators

I held my breath yesterday, waiting for the US State Department to issue its latest annual list of governments implicated in the use of child soldiers. Last year’s list was a disaster: then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson overruled his…
Child soldiers put down their guns in a disarmament and release ceremony in Jonglei state, South Sudan, February 10, 2015.
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(Beirut) – Lawless armed conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) morphed into disastrous trends for the region in 2017, Human Rights Watch said today in releasing its 2018 World Report. “Failed leadership, failed…
Smoke billows behind a building in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on December 3, 2017, during clashes between Houthi rebels and supporters of Yemeni ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh. © 2017 Getty Images
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Protection Gaps Increase Children’s Vulnerability

(Beirut) – Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has recruited Afghan immigrant children living in Iran to fight in Syria, Human Rights Watch said today. Afghan children as young as 14 have fought in the Fatemiyoun division,…
Tombstones of Afghan child soldiers buried in Iran.
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Tillerson Takes Burma, Iraq Off List Despite Evidence

Dozens of children were part of Burma’s armed forces as recently as last week. In Iraq, children have died fighting the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) with Iraqi government military units. But United States Secretary of State Rex…
United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks during a press conference at the State Department in Washington, U.S. June 21, 2017.
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Tillerson Undermines US Law by Removing Violators

(Washington, DC) – US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson should return Burma and Iraq to the US list of governments using child soldiers, Human Rights Watch said today. Reuters reported that Tillerson overruled State Department officials and senior US…
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
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"Daoud" said he wanted to fight "for revenge" after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) swept into Iraq's Sinjar district in August 2014, killing thousands of adherents of the Yazidi religious minority and taking thousands more captive.…
Martyr Khairy school in Khanasoor, Sinjar, run by YBŞ/HPG-affiliated staff, implementing the Rojava curriculum in Roman script.
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Armed Groups Should Immediately Demobilize Children

(Beirut) – Armed groups in Iraq affiliated to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party have recruited boys and girls, Human Rights Watch said today. In two cases the armed groups abducted or seriously abused children who tried to leave their forces. The groups should…
Commemoration monument for fallen YBŞ/HPG fighters in Sinjar.
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Recruited Children as Fighters From Camp for Displaced People

(Erbil) – Iraqi government-backed Hashad al-Asha’ri militias detained and beat at least 22 men from two villages near Mosul. The militias also recruited at least 10 children in a camp for displaced people as fighters against the Islamic State, also known…
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After over two grueling years living under the control of the Islamic State (ISIS), Mosul’s1.2 million civilians may  suffer yet more abuse when the government tries to retake the city if recent lessons from the operations to retake Fallujah, Tikrit and…
Popular Mobilization Force members on the frontline with the Islamic State in al-Fatha, northeast of Baiji, Iraq on October 18, 2015.
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Role of Abusive Armed Forces, Treatment, and Screening of Detainees

(Beirut) – The Iraqi government should make a commitment to prevent any armed forces implicated in laws of war violations from participating in planned operations against the extremist armed group Islamic State (also known as ISIS) in Mosul, Human Rights…
Popular Mobilization Force members on the frontline with the Islamic State in al-Fatha, northeast of Baiji, Iraq on October 18, 2015.
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Before Mosul, All Sides Should Demobilize Child Soldiers

(Dohuk) – Iraqi government-backed militias have recruited children from at least one displaced persons camp in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to fight against Islamic State forces. All security forces and armed groups should abide by international law and…
A camp for displaced persons who fled from the extremist group Islamic State, or ISIS, in the Makhmour area near Mosul, Iraq, June 17, 2016. Picture taken June 17, 2016.
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State Department List Adds Iraq, Excludes Afghanistan

(New York) – The Obama administration should require foreign governments receiving United States military aid to immediately end their use of child soldiers, Human Rights Watch said today. On June 30, 2016, the US State Department issued a new list of…
Child soldiers put down their guns in a disarmament and release ceremony in Jonglei state, South Sudan, February 10, 2015.