The government of Iraq has tortured, abused, imprisoned and executed children - some just infants - to punish and extract confessions from its adult opponents, Amnesty International said Tuesday.

"Opponents and critics of the government have frequently had to pay a price for their activities in terms of the welfare - and sometimes the lives - of their children," the international human rights group says in a report.Amnesty appealed to Iraq to stop the reported brutality and said it had asked the U.N. Commission for Human Rights, now meeting in Geneva, to scrutinize the situation.

The 33-page report, entitled "Children: Innocent Victims of Political Repression," said children held by Iraqi authorities are routinely tortured by beatings, whippings, sexual abuse and electric shock.

It said the aim is often to "force them to reveal information about their relatives . . . In sum, children and young people have become the innocent victims of a policy of political repression."

"Brutal treatment of children has become routine practice in the prisons of Iraq," the human rights group said.

In one case, a former political prisoner released in 1985 after five months detention at al-Karkh Security Directorate told of the abuse of his family.

"My mother (aged 73), three sisters and three brothers, with five children aged between five and 13, were arrested and brought in front of me," then beaten on the soles of their feet, the prisoner, who was not identified, was quoted as saying.

Amnesty said he added: "Usually they keep children in a separate cell next to the mother's or father's cell and deprive them of milk in order to force the parents to confess. I saw a 5-month-old baby screaming in this state."