“Mirror, mirror on the wall, am I only a terrorist after all?” The impact of social categorization of children associated with terrorist groups on their legal treatment in the Lebanese judicial process
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With the rise of terrorist organisation such as Daesh, the number of children involved in terrorist activities has increased. This phenomenon was particularly prominent in Lebanon following the outbreak of the Syrian conflict. Between 2012 and 2018, 139 children have been imprisoned for terrorism. A primary investigation on the subject demonstrated flagrant differences of treatment at different stages of the judicial procedure. The present research attempts to explain these contrasts since it has repercussion on the respect or violations of the rights of the child. Using interviews of various relevant actors of the Lebanese judicial system and complementary academic literature, the research draws on social categorization and intergroup relations theories as theoretical framework. Observations show that when the child is more categorized as a victim there is a greater respect for his rights, whereas there are more rights violations when he is perceived as criminal, delinquent or terrorist. In conclusion, social categorization might be considered as a factor explaining the differences of treatment along the judicial process.