Human Rights Watch says Iraq and the Kurdish regional government have charged hundreds of children with terrorism for alleged affiliation with the Islamic State group, often using torture to coerce confessions.

The New York-based group released a report on Wednesday estimating that Iraqi and Kurdish authorities were holding approximately 1,500 children for alleged IS affiliation in detention at the end of 2018.

Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director for HRW, said this “sweeping punitive approach is not justice” and warned it would create lifelong negative consequences for many of the children.

FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2016 file photo, displaced people leave their homes during fighting in Hamam al-Alil, south of Mosul, Iraq. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
FILE – In this Nov. 6, 2016 file photo, displaced people leave their homes during fighting in Hamam al-Alil, south of Mosul, Iraq. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

The report said kids recruited by armed groups should be recognized primarily as victims who should be rehabilitated and reintegrated into society.

Iraq declared victory against IS in December 2017 after three years of battles.

FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017 file photo, women and children from Hawija sit outside a Kurdish screening center to determine if they were associated with the Islamic State group, in Dibis, Iraq. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen, File)
FILE – In this Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017 file photo, women and children from Hawija sit outside a Kurdish screening center to determine if they were associated with the Islamic State group, in Dibis, Iraq. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 3, 2017 file photo, displaced men from Hawija stand facing a wall in order not to see security officers, who will try to determine if they were associated with the Islamic State group, at a Kurdish screening center in Dibis, Iraq. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen, File)
FILE – In this Oct. 3, 2017 file photo, displaced men from Hawija stand facing a wall in order not to see security officers, who will try to determine if they were associated with the Islamic State group, at a Kurdish screening center in Dibis, Iraq. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen, File)

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