EU: Counter-Terrorism Coordinator: how should the authorities respond to children accompanying "Foreign Terrorist Fighter Returnees"?
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A recent report produced by the EU's Counter-Terrorism Coordinator suggests numerous ways national authorities could deal with children returning to Europe with individuals who have engaged in terrorist activity abroad, including the possibility of using "closed child facilities" - i.e. detention - in certain cases.
See: EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Member States' approaches to dealing with accompanying family members of Foreign Terrorist Fighter Returnees, in particular children: Results of the questionnaire and follow-up (6900/17, LIMITE, 6 March 2017, pdf)
Also just published: Restricted Eurojust report highlights use of intelligence in "foreign fighters" court cases across the EU
The report is based on the findings of a questionnaire on "dealing with accompanying family members of Foreign Terrorist Fighter Returnees, in particular children" that was issued to all Member States.
The report warns that:
"The children described above may be both security threats and victims. The fact that they pose a threat does not lessen the fact that they were victims, similar to other children in armed conflict.
A key challenge will be to develop a multidisciplinary response to address both the security and the welfare / child protection aspects relating to child returnees. In the short term, there is a concern for the child's own welfare, but they could also have violent tendencies which present a risk to the welfare of others, particularly other children. In the longer term (and one could argue, in the short term, too), there is a risk of terrorism if early intervention is not provided."
It is emphasised that:
"The best interest of the child must be a primary consideration in all actions and decisions concerning children. It is important to adhere to existing legal standards, including for example the standards in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been ratified by all Member States."
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