Magnus Bergmar, Executive Director. Children’s World
World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child
Box 150, S-647 24 Mariefred, Sweden
Re: Unlawful Prosecution of Underage Captives labeled as Terrorists
Dear Magnus Bergmar:
As the United States of America prepares to choose the next President, I am fearful the next administration and the rest of the world will forget about the underage captives taken in the combat zone and branded as “terrorist”. Some of these children were only 14 and 15 years old when detained by the U.S. military.
In the past, we written to you and kept you abreast of their plight. Now one of the government tribunal prosecutors has quit and is ready to testify that the rights of one of these children were violated.
These children were taken into custody, originally denied representation and parental visits. They were held incommunicado in isolated areas and tortured.
Now a former U.S. military prosecutor at Guantanamo who accuses his superiors of suppressing evidence refused Thursday to testify in a war crimes case unless he is granted immunity… Army Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, who was called as a defense witness, revealed a day earlier that he quit over what he called ethical lapses by prosecutors. (Source: http://www.star-telegram.com/national_news/story/935093.html)
Mohammed Jawad, captured in Afghanistan in 2002, is now 23 and facing charges for which he could be given a life sentence, including attempted murder on allegations that he threw a grenade that injured two U.S. soldiers and their interpreter.
Previously mentioned cases include:
One child prisoner, Mohamed el Gharani, is accused of involvement in a 1998 al-Qa'ida plot in London led by the alleged al-Qa'ida leader in Europe , Abu Qatada. But he was 12 years old at the time and living with his parents in Saudi Arabia … After being arrested in Karachi in October 2001, aged 14, he has spent several years in solitary confinement as an alleged al-Qa'ida-trained fighter.
One Canadian-born boy, Omar Khadr, was 15 when arrested in 2002 and has also been kept in solitary confinement. The son of a known al-Qa'ida commander, he is accused of killing a US soldier with a grenade in July 2002 and was placed top of the Bush administration's list of detainees facing prosecution.
According to Lt Commander Jeffrey Gordon, Senior Pentagon spokesman... "There is no international standard concerning the age of an individual who engages in combat operations... Age is not a determining factor in detention.
Eddie Griffin pleads to the world on behalf of these children who are being maliciously prosecuted. The U.S. media will not cover these cases, because they know that these so-called terrorists were only children.
The Child Protection Section
Programme Division UNICEF NY