//60 minors at Guantanamo

60 minors at Guantanamo

May 28, 2006 PTI

LONDON: More than 60 children, some 14 years old, have been held at the US detention camp for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, a human rights group here claimed in a report on Sunday.

The detainees were boys under 18 when they were captured, rights group Reprieve said in the report published in the Independent.

"They include at least 10 detainees still held at the US base in Cuba who were 14 or 15 when they were seized-including child soldiers who were held in solitary confinement, repeatedly interrogated and allegedly tortured," it said.

The disclosures threaten to plunge the Bush administration into a fresh row with Britain, its closest ally in the war on terror, the report said. "We would take a very, very dim view if it transpires that there were actually minors there," a government official was quoted as saying in the report.

Clive Stafford Smith, a legal director of Reprieve and lawyer for a number of detainees, said it broke every widely accepted legal convention on human rights to put children in the same prison as adults -including US law.

One detainee, an Al-Jazeera journalist called Sami el Hajj, has identified 36 juveniles in Guantanamo.

However, a senior Pentagon spokesman, quoted by the paper, insisted that no one now being held at Guantanamo was a juvenile and said the Department of Defence also rejected arguments that normal criminal law was relevant to the detainees.