Some sent away without their mothers

Iraqi authorities deport 1,000 children of foreign ISIS prisoners

BAGHDAD, October 4 — Iraq’s Ministry of Justice announced on Tuesday that 1,000 children of convicted foreign ISIS members had been handed over to governments around the world, after determining their and their parents’ nationalities.

Kamel Amin, spokesman for the Ministry, explained the Iraqi government undertook proceedings to repatriate the children, regardless of their parents’ current legal status in Iraq.

“These children are being sent back without their mothers, unless the mother has completed her sentence, in which case she is sent with the child,” Amin said. “The mothers of the children are sentenced to various prison terms on terrorism charges and do not have the right to refuse the deportation of their children.”

According to Amin, Iraqi law states that incarcerated mothers have the right to keep their child with them until they reach the age of three, afterwhich they are removed from their mother’s care.

Iraqi children are handed over to their relatives and families or to state institutions, however, for exceptional humanitarian purposes, children [of convicted ISIS members] over the age of three are still with their mothers, and some of the children have been isolated upon reaching adolescence,” he continued.

Iraqi authorities reportedly conducted investigations, including DNA analysis, before a judge issued a decision to deport the children. Determining the children’s nationalities was done in conjunction with relevant governments.

“Some countries have dealt with the children according to the nationality of the mother, and others according to the nationality of the father,” Amin explained. “For example, we handed over three children to Georgia according to the nationality of their mother, even though their father was Chechen. However, the Georgian constitution and law consider the children of Georgian women to be affiliated with the country.”

The Georgian children’s mothers are expected to remain in Iraq to serve out their sentences, as Baghdad has no extradition agreement with Tbilisi.

Other countries who have received children include Russia, Jordan, and Turkey, which repatriated the highest number of minors. Children determined to have at least one Iraqi parent remain in the country.

“If one of the parents is Iraqi and the other is foreign, the child is treated as an Iraqi,” Amin said.