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US Military Detains More Than 200 Afghan Teens as ‘Enemy Combatants’ December 9, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
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Roger’s note: the United States invades a country on the other side of the world that poses no threat to its security, throwing down death and destruction.  Cowardly unmanned missiles rain down on civilian targets, and here we learn that children are captured and thrown into the hell hole dungeon know as the Bagram prison.  God Bless America.  It knows how to treat its “enemies” regardless of age.


Published on Saturday, December 8, 2012 by Common Dreams

‘Children as young as 11 or 12’ detained at Bagram

  – Lauren McCauley, staff writer

More than 200 Afghan teenagers have been captured and detained by the US military, the United States told the United Nations in a very troubling report distributed this week.

(Photo: Cpl. Reece Lodder / Marine Corps)

In recent years, the US has received criticism from a number of human rights organizations for failing to meet commitments to protect children in war zones.

The report was written in response to questions raised earlier this year by the United Nations committee charged with implementing the international treaty on the rights of children in armed conflict, formally known as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC).

According to the report, the State Department detained the children for up to a year at a time at a military prison next to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

Characterized as “enemy combatants,” the purpose of detention was “not punitive but preventative: to prevent a combatant from returning to the battlefield,” the report said.

Though the US military estimates that most of the juvenile Afghan detainees were about 16 years old, their age was not usually determined until after capture.

“I’ve represented children as young as 11 or 12 who have been at Bagram,” said Tina M Foster, executive director of the International Justice Network, which represents adult and juvenile detainees.

Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s human rights program, added that it was “highly likely that some children were as young as 14 or 13 years old when they were detained by US forces.”

In regards to the inexplicably long detention, Dakwar added, “This is an extraordinarily unacceptably long period of time that exposes children in detention to greater risk of physical and mental abuse, especially if they are denied access to the protections guaranteed to them under international law.”

Allison Frankel of the ACLU human rights program wrote Saturday that there were significant and troubling lapses in information in the report:

The U.S. still has not provided any specific information about where these children were transferred to, or what forms of rehabilitation and reintegration assistance has been made available to them. Although this support is mandated under OPAC, evidence suggests that the U.S. has thus far failed to provide such assistance, let alone remedies for wrongful detention and abuse in U.S. custody.

According to the Associated Press, the State Department filed a similar report in 2008, providing a “snapshot” of the “US military’s effort in the endgame of the Bush presidency”:

In 2008, the US said it held about 500 juveniles in Iraqi detention centers and then had only about 10 at the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. A total of some 2,500 youths had been detained, almost all in Iraq, from 2002 through 2008 under the Bush administration.

Barack Obama campaigned for the presidency in 2008 in part on winding down active US involvement in the Iraq war, and shifting the military focus to Afghanistan. The latest figures on under-18 detainees reflect the redeployment of US efforts to Afghanistan.

The report was issued within the same week as an objectionable article in Military Times entitled “Some Afghan Kids Aren’t Bystanders,” quoted a senior officer who said that the military isn’t just out to bomb “military age males,” anymore, but kids, too:

“It kind of opens our aperture,” said Army Lt. Col. Marion “Ced” Carrington, whose unit, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, was assisting the Afghan police. “In addition to looking for military-age males, it’s looking for children with potential hostile intent.”

Amos Guiora, a law professor at the University of Utah specializing in counter-terrorism, said Carrington’s remarks reflected the shifting definitions of legitimate military targets within the Obama administration, the Guardian reports.

He is articulating a deeply troubling policy adopted by the Obama administration.

The decision about who you consider a legitimate target is less defined by your conduct than the conduct of the people or category of people which you are assigned to belong to … That is beyond troubling. It is also illegal and immoral.

The U.S. will undergo formal review by the Committee on the Rights of the Child in January 2013.


Children spending a lifetime in prison — only in the USA January 18, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, Human Rights.
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Cruel and Unusual: The U.S. is the only country that locks up children for life. Tell Louisiana that Christi Cheramie — sentenced to life without parole at the age of 16 — deserves another chance.


Locked up for life at 16. No possibility of parole. Christi Cheramie is living a nightmare.
When Christi was 16 years old, back in 1994, she couldn’t vote, drink alcohol, serve on a jury, or buy lottery tickets. She was considered a minor — a child. But that didn’t stop the state of Louisiana from giving this 16-year-old a sentence of life without parole.

Ask Louisiana’s governor and the state Board of Pardons to grant clemency to Christi Cheramie.

Only in the U.S. — where children as young as 11 have faced life in prison — are such harsh sentences against juveniles allowed. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child prohibits life without parole for offenses committed under the age of 18. This is not about excusing or minimizing the consequences of crimes committed by children, but about recognizing that children are not yet fully responsible for their actions and have special potential for rehabilitation and change.
Christi, now 33 years old, has spent more than half of her young life in prison. She’s earned her high school equivalency diploma and an associate’s degree in Agriculture Studies, and teaches classes to her fellow inmates. A prison warden who oversaw Christi considers her a “model inmate” who has grown into a “remarkable young woman” deserving of “a second chance in society.”

But if we don’t act, a mandatory sentence of life without parole means that Christi will die in prison. A victim of sexual abuse and depression, and caught in the web of an aggressive and controlling older fiancé, Christi found herself at the grisly murder scene of her fiancé’s great aunt. She was charged with murder just for being there — even though it was her fiancé who wielded the knife.

The victim’s closest family members are sympathetic to Christi’s case. But Christi’s fate is now in the hands of Louisiana’s governor and Board of Pardons.

Our 2011 Write for Rights campaign highlighted Christi’s case, and thousands of letters have already poured into Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s office. Next week, the Board of Pardons will meet to decide whether or not to move forward with Christi’s clemency application — a decision that the governor can influence. We must keep the momentum going from Write for Rights — and the time to act is now!

Christi has already changed people’s lives through her work at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women, but she will never be able to realize her full potential — and society won’t benefit from her potential contributions — if she spends the rest of her life behind bars.

It’s time for the U.S. to join the rest of the world and end the cruel and unusual punishment of juvenile life without parole. People convicted of crimes while still children — like Christi Cheramie — should be given a chance at rehabilitation. They shouldn’t be left to grow old in a jail cell.
You can make a difference in Christi’s case. Sign our petition now calling for clemency for Christi Cheramie.

Thank You,

Michael O’Reilly Senior Director, Individuals at Risk Campaign Amnesty International USA

“He Was A Child” May 7, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, Human Rights, Iraq and Afghanistan, Torture, War.
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05.06.10 – 7:32 PM

by Abby Zimet

Spencer Ackerman is still at Guantanamo, where he offers more heart-breaking, stomach-churning testimony from the Omar Khadr hearing, this time from Army interrogator Damien Corsetti – aka The Monster – who grew emotional remembering the abuse of the then-15-year-old at Bagram. Canadian media likewise describe a crying Khadr chained to his cell. Horrifying. And, lest we forget, done in our name.

“He was a 15-year old child who had been blown up, shot and grenaded. He was in one of the worst places on the earth. How could you not have compassion for that? He was in the wrong place for a 15-year old child to be.” – Damien ‘The Monster’ Corsetti.



“Serious Citizen” comments

The US is a signatory to the “UN Convention on the Rights of the Child”, including the “Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict”. These were approved by the US Senate and signed by the President as treaties. In these treaties, a child is defined as anyone under age 18. Child soldiers are declared to be victims of war. These treaties explicitly acknowledge that children may be recruited by non-state combatant forces, such as terrorist organizations. By these treaties, the US is obligated to treat Omar Khadr humanely as a victim of war, not as a war criminal. It should arouse Americans, Canadians, and other signatories to these treaties that the USA is blatantly violating its treaty obligations. There is the further issue that US military personnel swear an oath to uphold and defend the US Constitution, which declares in Article VI, Clause 2, that treaties are “the supreme law of the land.” Thus, US military officers, including interrogators and prosecutors, who treat Omar Khadr as a war criminal are violating a US treaty, which violates the Constitution, which violates their sworn oaths. They themselves should be charged and prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, article 933, Conduct Unbecoming an Officer.

“minitrue” comments:

And, of course, one must remember that the majority of those held at Gitmo and other secret gulags around the world were turned in by bounty hunters for $5000, no questions asked. War Lords fattened their treasuries by scooping people off the streets and turning them over to us as bonifide terrorists. People settled old scores by capturing the “other” and turning him in. Five grand, please.

Those in durance vile knew nothing, so they were considered “stubborn.” Tortured, waterboarded, they still gave out no information. Do it again! Many tortured until they would confess to killing their own mother to get the pain to stop.

The Spanish Inquisition redux. I imagine the inquisitors stayed detached. Just doing a job. Roast a man’s feet until he confessed. Just good careful technique.

I imagine our inquisitors are just as professional, just as detached. But remember, if he doesn’t tell you what he knows, he’s hiding something. Ignorance is no excuse, keep torturing.

This is not the country I grew up in, it is not the country I was, at one time, willing to die for. As an historian, I have studied Nazi Germany quite closely. The parallels are approaching identical. We are, perhaps, a bit more sophisticated in our application and, Oh, wouldn’t Himmler have loved the toys we play with?

Israeli children vs. Palestinian children May 10, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Israel, Gaza & Middle East.
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Can you tell them apart?

Israeli children sending Hate & Death messages


Iraqi Children Bear the Costs of War March 5, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
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by César Chelala

The great number of Iraqi children affected with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is one of the saddest, and least known, legacies of the Iraq war. That a new clinic for their treatment opened last August in Baghdad is the first of its kind says a lot about how this problem is being addressed. Until now, hundreds of children suffering from PTSD have been treated by Dr. Haider Maliki at the Central Pediatric Teaching Hospital in Baghdad. Hundreds of thousands remain untreated.

Dr. Maliki, who is the only child psychiatrist in the entire country working at a government hospital, hasn’t even been trained as a child psychiatrist and only took up the position when he saw the tremendous needs for that kind of professional in the country. It is well known that children are particularly vulnerable to stress, violence, and displacement.

Hardly a week still passes by in Iraq without renewed signs of violence that leave both children and adults with permanent mental scars. Dr. Haithi Al Sady, Dean of the Psychological Research Center at Baghdad University has been studying the effects of PTSD in Iraqi children. According to him, 28 percent of Iraqi children suffer some degree of PTSD, and their numbers are steadily rising. It is easy to see children’s psychological status being affected by daily explosions, killings, abductions, threatening noises and turmoil in Iraq’s main cities.

PTSD in children can affect their brain and lead to long term effects that will alter their development. Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine found that children with PTSD were likely to experience a decrease in the size of the brain area known as hippocampus, which is a brain structure important in memory processing and emotion.

Stress sustained over a long period of time is likely to cause more serious effects. More than half a million Iraqi children had been traumatized by conflict, according to a 2003 UNICEF report.

UNICEF states that almost two million children have been displaced from their homes since the last war began. “Iraqi children, already casualties of a quarter of a century of conflict and deprivation, are being caught up in a rapidly worsening humanitarian tragedy, “according to that organization. “Iraqi children are paying far too high a price,” stated Roger Wright, UNICEF’s Special Representative for Iraq in December of 2007.

Information collected by UNICEF from different sources support his assertion. By the end of 2007, approximately 75,000 children had resorted to living in camps or temporary shelters. Many of the 220,000 displaced children of primary school age had their education interrupted. This is in addition to the estimated 760,000 children already out of primary school in 2006. Hundreds of children held in prison -some as young as nine-years-old- are kept in overcrowded cells and are frequent targets of sexual abuse by prison guards, according to information from current and former child prisoners.

Both the United States and Great Britain are recognized as Iraq’s occupying powers, and as such are bound by the Hague and Geneva Conventions that demand that they be responsible not only for maintaining order, but also for responding to the medical needs of the population. Children’s mental health is among the most urgent of those needs.

What is now needed is to increase funding to UNICEF and other organization working with children and vulnerable groups in Iraq. New clinics addressing the mental health needs of children should be created. In addition, U.S., British, and other European professionals with experience in working in conflict situations and with PTSD-affected children can give valuable assistance. A generation of Iraqi children has already paid too high a price for this sinister war.

 César Chelala, MD, PhD, is a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award. He is also the foreign correspondent for Middle East Times International (Australia).

Harper, federal lawyers at odds over Khadr trial January 12, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Criminal Justice, Human Rights, Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
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Toronto Star, january 12, 2009

Canadian government lawyers have repeatedly raised concerns about the U.S. prosecution of Omar Khadr because he was only 15 when captured, while publicly, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has supported the war crimes trial of the Toronto-born detainee.

Internal government documents obtained by the Toronto Star state that “Canada considers that Omar Khadr’s juvenile status should be taken into account in all aspects of his detention, treatment, proceedings and possible sentence.”

The Star made the request for documents through the Federal Access to Information legislation 17 months ago.

The more than 100 heavily censored pages of documents from Canada’s Justice and Foreign Affairs Departments include legal opinions about Khadr’s case and Guantanamo’s war crimes trials. One report concerning Canada’s law for young offenders and titled “Youth Criminal Justice Act” is completely blacked out.

But concerns about Khadr’s age are repeatedly noted and appear to reveal a schism between Harper, who has not publicly challenged the legality of the Bush administration’s military commissions, and the bureaucrats providing legal advice. One undated report to Canada’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maxime Bernier, states that Canada has “continuously demanded that the U.S. government take Mr. Khadr’s age into account.”

The Pentagon has stated that Khadr’s age could be a factor during sentencing if he’s convicted, but that it has not influenced the conditions of his detention for the past 6 1/2 years and will not affect his prosecution.

Khadr’s lawyers have unsuccessfully argued that his case is in violation of international law since the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child – which Canada has ratified – stipulate that children under the age of 18 who are caught in armed conflict must be handled differently than adult captives. Rehabilitation, not prosecution, is the goal.

Now 22, Khadr was shot and captured in Afghanistan on July 27, 2002 following a firefight with U.S. forces.

The Pentagon charged him with five war crimes, including murder for allegedly throwing a grenade that fatally wounded Delta Force soldier Christopher Speer.

His trial is scheduled to begin in two weeks.

This morning, Canadian Liberal Senator Romeo Dallaire will join American child rights advocates in Washington in an effort to put Khadr’s case on the top of the Obama administration’s agenda. Speakers at the press conference will include former child soldier and UNICEF Ambassador Ishmael Beah and David Crane, a Syracuse law professor and former prosecutor for Sierra Leone’s war crime trials.

“I think one of the problems with this case is the reason people don’t have compassion for Omar Khadr, but have compassion for people like me … It’s easy for people here to say, `Oh we forgive child soldiers,’ because it’s not affecting them directly,” Beah said in an interview with the Star last year.

“But you can’t say that one person’s life is more valuable. So, if a 15-year-old kid in Sierra Leone, in Congo, in Uganda, in Liberia, if they kill somebody and shoot somebody in the war it’s fine, but as soon as that kid kills an American soldier … they are no longer a child soldier, they are a terrorist.”

During an interview aired yesterday with ABC’s This Week, Obama said it was unlikely he would be able to shut Guantanamo’s prison within the first 100 days of his presidency, due to the complex legal situation of some of the remaining 250 prisoners.

But sources told the Star that Obama’s transition team had specifically requested information concerning Khadr’s case and that of Mohammad Jawad, an Afghan detainee who was also under the age of 18 when captured. Khadr’s Pentagon-appointed lawyer, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Bill Kuebler, confirmed Friday that the transition team is “aware of the case, the key dates, and the procedures for turning it off.”

As Dallaire takes his message to Washington today, a grassroots movement is planning to inundate Ottawa MPs with more than 5,000 postcards calling for Khadr’s repatriation. However, Canadians generally remain divided on the case largely due to the unpopularity of Khadr’s siblings and mother.

In a 2004 CBC documentary, family members admitted to knowing Osama bin Laden when they lived in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

For the past two years, Harper’s government has steered clear of the politically unpopular Khadr case, as did the Liberals before them.

But with Guantanamo’s prison set to close, Obama will be reaching out for countries to accept detainees who will not be tried. If the Toronto detainee’s case is not moved to a criminal trial or court martial on U.S. soil, it’s likely he will request that Canada take Khadr back.