Government responses to fear of terrorism and ‘radicalisation’ are resulting in excessive measures that infringe on human rights. These come in different guises, for example vague or overbroadly definitions of terrorist acts or the granting of excessive powers to law enforcement agencies.
The impact of terrorism and counter-terrorism measures on children are heightened because of their age. Some of these are explained below. If you are working on these issues, contact us at [email protected].
Privacy & freedom of expression
Governments are exerting pressure on schools to surveil children’s internet usage and monitoring their activities and behaviour to identify possible radicalisation. This breaches children’s right to privacy and inhibits free expression. Children should be included in debates around preventing terrorism and radicalisation.
The language used to describe or refer to a given community, in this case mostly the Muslim and migrant community, has an impact on how they are perceived and treated. We must reassert the language of rights.
Children returning home from fighting overseas may be prosecuted as terrorists for involvement with armed groups, rather than treated as victims. Any juvenile justice system should be purely directed at rehabilitation and reintegration - and this should apply to all under-18s. Even in cases of severe offences committed by children, detention should be the exception and should be outweighed by the interest of safeguarding the well-being and development of the child.
Find resources dedicated to debating this issue below.
- The effects of terrorism and counter-terrorism measures on the enjoyment of children’s rights, CRIN submission for the OHCHR’s report on terrorism and human rights
- What does 'radicalisation' mean for children's rights in different regions? CRIN
- A critique of the term ‘radicalisation’, CRIN
- Eroding Trust: The UK’s Prevent Counter-Extremism Strategy in Health and Education, Open Society Justice Initiative, October 2016
- Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, February 2016
- EU: Orwellian counter-terrorism laws stripping rights under guise of defending them, Amnesty International, January 2017
- Principles and Guidelines on Human and Peoples’ Rights while Countering Terrorism in Africa, 2015, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
- Schools monitoring pupils' web use with 'anti-radicalisation software', Guardian, June 2015
- FBI’s new plan to spy on high school students across the country, Project Censored, June 2016