Armed conflict and national security depriving children of liberty in the MENA region: Case studies and good practices

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Jambi, Reham
Arbi, Chiraz
Werf, Charlotte : van der
Lotf, Ahmed Samy
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Global Campus of Human Rights
The UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty outlines various pathways to detention in the contexts of armed conflicts and national security. A particular focus of this article falls on a comparative study between three case studies in the Arab region – notably Iraq & Syria (ISIS regions), Libya, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). This comparative study is used in order to identify common problems as well as common good practices towards reaching a preliminary regional approach. With the defeat of ISIS, approximately 29 000 children have been detained in the northeast of Syria and in Iraq. Of those, only a limited number of children have been repatriated to their or their parents’ countries of origin, highlighting the overall reluctance of states to repatriate jihadist fighters for alleged security concerns. Detained children associated with ISIS are susceptible to radicalisation, aggravated socio-psychological harm and deprivation of the right to a normal childhood. The changing nature of armed conflict from ‘traditional’ wars to conflicts between non-state armed groups corresponds with an increase in the treatment of children as perpetrators rather than victims (especially in Libya). Children affiliated with terrorist groups are put to trial in circumstances that are contrary to international child justice standards. In the OPT, a high number of arrested children are mistreated, while they are also subjected to military courts and law. While states have the primary duty to prevent any potential security threats (including terrorism), protecting children from all types of violence is an obligation under international human rights law. Recognising the pressing need to liberate children from their precarious situation within detention camps, this article calls for concerted efforts to bring adequate solutions in accordance with international standards of justice for children in a way that promotes their rehabilitation and reintegration. Key words: children’s rights; armed conflict; national security; deprivation of liberty; children deprived of liberty; children in Palestine; children of ISIS; children in Libya; UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty; deprivation of liberty on grounds of armed conflict; deprivation of liberty on grounds of national security
children's rights, detained children, detention, armed conflict, North Africa, Middle East, Libya, Palestine, national security, terrorism
AS Lotf, C vd Werf, C Arbi & R Jambi ‘Armed conflict and national security depriving children of liberty in the MENA region: Case studies and good practices’ (2020) 4 Global Campus Human Rights Journal 311-338