Wearing Guantanamo-style orange suits, young Iraqis aged between nine and 18 years sit in Iraq's sole correction center hoping that the once-a-week permitted visit will bring them the sight of their families through the wire screen. \n"I was against it, but the Americans imposed this suit for security reasons. If the detainees escape, they would be easily recognized," said Wali al-Khafaji, director of the al-Karkh center in Baghdad. \n"Security detainees," who are under the US army's sole custody, have to wear the overalls -- which provide a harsh reminder of the uniform worn by detainees at the controversial US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. \nA US army spokesman said the US military in Iraq detains 40 minors who fall into this category. \nKidnappers in Iraq have also taken to using the orange overalls, forcing their captives to wear them in an obvious reference to Guantanamo Bay, sometimes before cutting off their heads, filmed on gruesome and graphic video. \nIraq's human rights ministry has asked for more correction centers to be opened in other provinces so that inmates can be closer to families living far from the capital, said a member of the prionners' committee at the ministry, Saad Sultan. \nApproval of this is not expected any time soon as other ministries have to be consulted and agree, in this country known for its rigid bureaucracy. \nAt the Baghdad correction center, about 200 delinquents share four dormitories built around a square courtyard cut by a volleyball net. A small library allows the inmates to escape their daily hardships and read. \nBut many of the young men visibly suffer from the loneliness imposed when families live in remote provinces. The fresh blue paint on the walls, the smell of soap, the three daily meals and the songs from a television, do little to lift their spirits. \nIbrahim, 15, was caught stealing money in the northern city of Mosul. He was sentenced to seven years in jail. \n"My parents live far from here and come to visit me once a month. I miss them," he said. \nMohammad, 18, has not seen his parents for three months. His mother is in a prison for women and his father in a jail in Baghdad. The three were detained over a case of rape and theft. \nHis only brother, aged 12, is free and shuttles between the three prisons. \nAhmed, 16, was more lucky. His parents live in Baghdad and never miss the weekly visit. But like the other detainees, he still has to talk to them without physical contact, standing behind a yellow line painted on the floor about a meter away from the wire screen. \nThe laws hang over from the harsh regime of former president Saddam Hussein. Some of the youngsters will have to wait years for release. \n"If those who are younger than 15 years are sentenced to a maximum of five years in jail, those who are older can get sentences of 15 years in prison," said Khafaji who called for the 1983 law for minors to be amended. \n"This law does not make a difference between the theft of a bottle of water and that of a safe. The verdict is the same," he explained. \nMany of the delinquents are from Baghdad's impoverished neighborhoods, mainly the Shiite northeastern slum of Sadr City. \nNearly 90 young inmates are awaiting trial, said prison spokesman Qais al-Mukhtar. They're not supposed to be held without trial more than six months, but the law is often hard to implement.
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