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Handbook on Children Recruited and Exploited by Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups: The Role of the Justice System, UNODC (2017)

This Handbook was developed with a view to providing coherent and consistent guidance to national authorities on the treatment of children recruited and exploited by terrorist and violent extremist groups, with emphasis on the role of the justice system.

The Handbook contains four chapters. Chapters I-IV combine legal guidance on the relevant international legal framework with operational guidance aimed at identifying effective approaches in the different areas of intervention, overcoming practical challenges and fostering the identification and promotion of lessons learned. The case studies featured in each chapter are particularly relevant, as they provide further insight on the adaptation of general recommendations to specific national and local contexts.

Chapter I is on the prevention of child recruitment by terrorist and violent extremist groups. Following an analysis of the key motivations and methods of the groups to recruit children, the chapter focuses on the need to design and implement comprehensive prevention measures aimed at addressing violence against children in general, recruitment in particular and the role of the justice systems in such policies.

Chapter II focuses on children recruited and exploited by terrorist and violent extremist groups, in particular their treatment as victims. The chapter deals with the recognition of their status as victims; safeguards aimed at fostering participation of children in criminal proceedings while preserving their safety; and their right to reparations.

The subject of chapter III is the treatment of children who have been recruited and exploited by terrorist and violent extremist groups and who come in contact with the justice system for allegedly having committed terrorism-related offences. The chapter focuses on issues regarding the legal status of those children, the competent authorities and procedures to deal with them, and minimum guarantees that should inform all stages of justice proceedings.

The final chapter addresses the need to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of children in different contexts. Taking into account the diversity of the phenomenon, the chapter provides overall guidance on child-sensitive reintegration measures, focusing on issues such as the demobilization and release of children; cross-border situations; and the reintegration of children who come in contact with the justice system.

Topic: Children
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