Some 21 children living with their mothers in a Baghdad women's prison represent a potential "time bomb," an Iraqi rights group warned on Sunday in a report that also noted claims of rape and torture.
The Hammurabi Humanitarian Organisation, headed by former migration minister Pascal Wardeh, also detailed conditions at the women's prison in Kadhimiyah, north Baghdad, in which some prisoners suffered physical assault.
It said 21 children were living with their mothers in the detention facility, "suffering a punishment without committing any crime." "The state must find the means to deal with such cases inside the prison," the report said, noting that the infants "were just spending time with their mothers, listening to their stories."
The rights group warned that this made the children "a time bomb for the future." It said that it made a visit to the prison on September 20, along with officials from Iraq's human rights ministry. The report was handed to President Jalal Talabani and the ministry itself.
A total of 414 detainees were being held in the jail, varying in age from 20 to 65. Among the inmates were 18 women sentenced to death. The NGO said that prisoners complained of "different forms of torture, such as the use of electricity, punching, and rape during the investigation."
It quoted an unidentified judge as saying that there were "violations throughout the investigation process," recommending that female security officers escort women prisoners to reduce the chance of abuse.
International human rights groups have on several occasions complained of persistent torture at Iraqi prisons being used to extract confessions from detainees, and also of the continued use of secret jails.