Children's champion demands end to paramilitary torture

19/11/2004 - 15:39:26

Northern Ireland’s Commissioner for Children made a powerful plea today for communities to reject the paramilitary torture of children.

Speaking at a Belfast conference, Nigel Williams said the rule of terror which left children and young people tortured, scarred, dying and in fear of their lives had to end.

He said he was horrified at the terror visited upon children and young people by the so-called paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland.

“Every year almost 50 children and young people in Northern Ireland are dragged away by hooded cowards, who then beat or shoot them. Quite simply, this has to stop now,” he said.

Mr Williams was speaking at the Building Bridges – Healing Communities through Early Childhood Education Working Forum conference.

He said: “Today, at a gathering when we are considering so much of the positive work in Northern Ireland, I am calling on all communities, community groups and other organisations to tell those who instil terror that the torture, maiming, mutilation and killing of children and young people has to stop.”

Mr Williams went on: “We cannot move forward in our society where children and young people are so terrified of so-called paramilitary groups that they consider suicide, or actually do take their own lives.

“These terrorists are killing children and young people.”

He urged everyone listening to, or reading, his words to imagine what it must be like for a teenager – no matter what their apparent bravado – to be dragged away by men in masks holding guns or improvised implements of torture.

“I want you to imagine what it must be like to have the barrel of a gun pressed against your knee and then the trigger pulled.

“I want you to imagine what it is like to have a baseball bat or hurling stick smashed into your ankle or knee until the bone shatters.

“If you can even imagine the terror or pain you will know this has to stop,” he said.

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