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UNICEF Statement on Iraq

GENEVA / NEW YORK, 11 May 2004 – UNICEF is profoundly disturbed by news reports alleging that children may have been among those abused in detention centres and prisons in Iraq.  Although the news reports have not been independently substantiated, they are alarming nonetheless. 

Any mistreatment, sexual abuse, exploitation or torture of children in detention is a violation of international law - including the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols. 

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.  For their safety and protection, children should never be incarcerated with adults, and should have prompt access to legal, medical, emotional and other appropriate assistance.  These standards apply in all cases involving children, including those who are considered to be child combatants.

All persons in detention must be treated with humanity and with respect for their  inherent dignity as human beings.  In particular, States have an obligation to protect children and to ensure that their officials are aware of, trained in, and comply with the relevant international standards.

For further information please contact us:
Damien Personnaz, UNICEF Media, Geneva: +41 (0) 22 909 5716, dpersonnaz@unicef.org

Alfred Ironside, UNICEF Media, New York: +1 212 326 7261, aironside@unicef.org




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