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Investigation and Prosecution of Children in a Counter-Terrorism Context

Cecilia Polizzi

/ Analysis

On July 7, 2022, the CRTG Working Group hosted an Expert Briefing on Investigation and Prosecution of Children in a Counter-Terrorism Context by Mr. Emerson Cachon, Programme Manager with the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ) and Ms. Irina Urumova, Independent Expert on Child Protection and International Investigations and Co- Author of the IIJ Juvenile Justice Note for Investigators. The issue of children recruited and used by terrorist actors has grown disproportionately in the past several years. In its contemporary dimension, the involvement of children in terrorism has emerged as a critical trend in the tactics and strategy of terrorist and violent extremist organizations and as an identifiable manifestation across the ideological spectrum. Terrorist and violent extremist organizations recruit, use, and exploit children in a multitude of ways, including for the perpetration of terrorism-related offenses and severe acts of violence under international law. The alleged involvement of children in terrorism and terrorism-related activities brings into consideration fundamental questions in relation to the legal frameworks, procedures and authorities that these children should be subjected to and calls for appropriate and coordinated responses.

The CRTG Working Group equips policymakers, professionals and practitioners with the tools necessary to understand and respond to violence against children in terrorism. We build support for good governance that enables child protection in terrorism. We engage directly with a range of stakeholders to seek and share information, build awareness and encourage positive action for children. 

The aim of this Expert Briefing on justice for children in a counter-terrorism context was to bring together practitioners to share observations and explore good practices to guide the efforts of investigators, prosecutors, and policymakers in handling children affected by terrorism while accommodating for security concerns and respecting child rights. The session was attended by Mr. Jamie Brown on behalf of the Counter-Terrorism Division of the Council of Europe and by Ms. Safinas Ahayeva, UNICEF Uzbekistan.

The purpose of this paper is to offer a series of recommendations to policymakers and practitioners responsible for providing justice responses to children affected by terrorism and violent extremism. 

This guidance is the result of shared insights, lessons learned, practical examples and policy recommendations from the joint meeting between the CRTG Working Group, Mr. Emerson Cachon and Ms. Urumova. It is divided into the following nine sections: (i) justice for children; (ii) risk assessment approaches and tools; (iii) child sensitive investigations; (iv) diversion; (v) rehabilitation and reintegration; (vi) community engagement and community policing; (vii) the role of civil society; (viii) vulnerability factors and drivers; (ix) children affected by the foreign-fighter phenomenon.

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Shaping Futures

@2023 CRTG Working Group

New York City

Working Group on Children Recruited 

by Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups Corp. 

EIN 30:1232924

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