Human Rights Watch says that security forces in Iraqi Kurdistan have been "torturing children" to force them to confess to having links to Islamic State militants.
The U.S.-based group said in a report released on January 8 that it had interviewed 23 teenage boys who had been charged with, or convicted of, belonging to Islamic State.
The group said that 16 of them said they had been tortured during questioning. Some said they were beaten with electric cables, plastic pipes, or rods; others said they were subjected to electric shocks.
"Most said they had no access to a lawyer and they were not allowed to read the confessions [security forces] wrote and forced them to sign," the report said.
It said the punishment inflicted by security forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq took place in 2017 and 2018 despite promises by authorities to investigate the torture claims.
Dindar Zebari, an adviser to the Kurdish government in northern Iraq, denied the allegations, in comments made to the AFP news agency.
"No one can be arrested unless the judiciary authorizes it. And any person who has been arrested is treated in accordance with the law," he said.
The Kurdish government rejects the use of torture, he said.