Children, Terrorism, and the Rule of Law

This paper surveys a number of recently reported judgments referred to collectively as the ‘radicalisation cases in the family courts’. These cases offer a family law approach to the phenomenon of ‘child terrorists’: those children who are suspected of attempting to travel to join Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (or who are at risk of being taken by their parents to Syria and Iraq for the same purpose); children who are at risk of being radicalised in the family home; and children who are at risk of being involved in terrorist activities either at home or abroad. The paper locates these cases within the two other approaches adopted by the state to deal with children suspected of terrorism: criminal prosecutions and the government’s flagship deradicalisation programme Channel. The paper argues that these three different approaches pose a series of challenges to the rule of law and raise interesting avenues for future research.