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Friday 24th of May 2019

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Some Child Soldiers Get Rehabilitation, Others Get Prison

Tuesday 5th of March 2019
hrw.org
News

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 training, and then worked as a cook, making about $50 a month. “I never wanted to fight,” he said. “That’s why I stayed a cook.”

Kurdish security forces in northern Iraq captured him during a military offensive in the fall of 2016, and detained and interrogated him. Last year, a Kurdish court convicted him of terrorism. When a colleague and I met him in November in a reformatory in Erbil, he had been in prison for more than two years.

With the rise of violent extremist groups like ISIS, al Qaeda, al-Shabab, and Boko Haram, many countries have adopted much more aggressive counterterrorism measures, including a marked increase in the detention and prosecution of children. The United Nations has documented a five-fold increase in the number of children detained in the context of armed conflict since 2012.

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