October 1, 2023


Advocacy. Mediation. Success.

In the dark and in danger, the lost boys of Syria’s prison system

“There are at least 100 youngsters missing,” Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, the United Nations unique rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human legal rights, advised The Telegraph this 7 days. “Possibly small children who were being killed throughout the assault or moved out of the prison to places where by they have not been recognized. Less than global law we would contact that enforced disappearance.

“I believe there are a selection of youngsters with severe and potentially life threatening accidents who continue to be in that jail and I think that some of individuals kids are… from Western states.” 

The Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-led militia in charge of the prisons, has remained limited-lipped about the fate of the detained boys. The Telegraph understands the SDF have refused requests from NGOs to evacuate wounded and ill boys, indicating they pose a safety threat.

Bo Viktor Nylund, Unicef’s representative in Syria, toured the prison in February and explained to The New York Periods that the detained boys lacked food items and medicine a little something the SDF has denied.

“Adolescents inside the detention centre get 3 primary meals on a day-to-day foundation, clean up h2o, and wellness care is offered to them by the clinical team of the detention centre,” the SDF responded.

They acknowledged that 121 of its fighters and guards had been killed in January’s siege, together with far more than 380 militants and prisoners. But they have in no way claimed how lots of minors were being harm or died, and did not respond to numerous requests for remark from The Telegraph.

“The silence on the numbers raises nonetheless more thoughts as to why dozens of governments are enabling an underfinanced, embattled, non-state actor to handle a populace of tens of 1000’s international IS suspects and relatives associates, none of whom have at any time been prior to a court docket, a lot considerably less billed with a crime,” mentioned Letta Tayler, an affiliate director and counter-terrorism guide at Human Legal rights Observe.

‘Cubs of the Caliphate’

Subsequent the closing fight towards IS in 2019, the SDF had been still left keeping an approximated 10,000 adult men suspected of backlinks to the extremist group. The SDF put these prisoners in about a dozen detention centres in north-east Syria, mainly transformed colleges and hospitals. 

Jailed alongside the grownups were being about 750 boys less than 18. The SDF referred to them as “Cubs of the Caliphate”, the phrase IS utilised for its skilled child troopers. But lots of of the boys had never even held a gun. Some ended up taken from their moms as adolescents mainly because it was feared they would be disruptive in detention camps keeping women of all ages and youthful youngsters. 

Most of the jailed boys had been Syrian and Iraqi, but roughly 150 have been from in other places, like at the very least 1 from the Uk, in accordance to UN authorities. 

Like the grown ups, these boys have languished in a legal limbo. As non-state actors, the SDF lacks jurisdiction to prosecute international prisoners, even though several countries have dismissed calls by the anti-IS coalition, the US and community authorities to just take back their citizens.