According to a May 2018 report of the UN Secretary-General which examines findings of 2017, killing and maiming remained the most prevalent violations against children witnessed in Iraq. Of the total number of verified cases of killing and maiming, 424 were attributed to ISIL, 109 to ISF and the international counter-ISIL coalition, 34 to Peshmerga and 150 to unknown parties to the conflict.
Sexual enslavement of children by ISIL and sexual exploitation and abuse of children were prevalent, according to the UN’s 2015 report. Being a victim of rape or kidnapping can be a cause for honour crimes. Authorities often treat sexually exploited children as criminals instead of victims.
Children were reportedly subjected to arbitrary arrests, torture and cruel punishment by police in detention and there were reports of children being held in pre-trial detention for long periods, in particular in case of perceived affiliation to ISIL. Children in detention were subjected to poor conditions, overcrowding, physical and sexual abuse. See also Persons perceived to be associated with ISIL.
UNAMI writes that in Iraq due to the ‘honour’ mitigation, fighting crime against women and children ‘remains problematic’. Police in Iraq lacked sufficient capacity to respond to violence against women and children via its 16 family protection units. According to the UN Human Rights Council, the police’s family protection units are understaffed and ‘remain inaccessible to most victims’ of domestic violence.
Some acts of violence to which children could be exposed to (e.g. arbitrary arrest or torture in relation to children associated with ISIL, sexual assault, rape, honour violence) would amount to persecution. In case of other forms of violence, the assessment should take into account the severity and repetitiveness of the violence.
Not all children would face the level of risk required to establish a well-founded fear of persecution in relation to violence. The individual assessment of whether or not there is a reasonable degree of likelihood for the applicant to face persecution should take into account risk-impacting circumstances, such as: gender (boys and girls may face different risks), perceived affiliation with ISIL (see Persons perceived to be associated with ISIL), age, perception of traditional gender roles in the family, poor socio-economic situation of the child and the family, etc.
Nexus to a reason for persecution
The individual circumstances of the child need to be taken into account to determine whether or not a nexus to a reason for persecution can be substantiated. For example, persecution of this profile may be for reasons of (imputed) political opinion (e.g. in case of perceived link to armed groups), religion (e.g. when persecution is by extremist groups), and/or membership of a particular social group (e.g. honour violence against children victims of sexual abuse may be due to their common background which cannot be changed (past experience of sexual abuse) and distinct identity in Iraq, in relation to stigmatisation by society).
See other topics concerning children:
2.17.1. Violence against children: overview