Monday, November 20, 2006

Children at Guantanamo

From Amnesty International:

Thousands of children around the world have suffered pain and distress as a result of US counter-terror policies and practices.

Some have been held in indefinite virtually incommunicado detention without charge or trial. Some have been subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

And many others still at home are tormented by the absence of their fathers, brothers and other relatives who themselves have been subjected to indefinite detention, in many cases for years.

The US authorities are believed to have held at least 17 children at Guantánamo Bay. Four of them, possibly more, remain there. They are Mohammed al-Gharani and Omar Khadr, who were 15 when detained, Hassan bin Attash, aged 17 when taken, and Yousef al-Shehri, aged 16.

Another detainee, Yassar al-Zahrani, was reportedly 17 when he was detained. He died in Guantánamo in June 2006, after apparently hanging himself.

Only three of the children held in Guantánamo were separated from the adult detainees, though international law requires special protections for under 18 year olds in detention. The others have been detained in the same harsh conditions as adults, including prolonged solitary confinement, isolation from their families and with no access to education.

Guantánamo is a symbol of injustice. The US government must close it down. All detainees must be released, or charged and given a fair trial.

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