The Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism (ADVT) discussed a number of issues concerning children impacted by terrorism in a side event dubbed “Access to Justice as a Strategy for Constraining Violence against Children” at the UN headquarters in Geneva.
A panel of five experts as well as a victim of terrorism called for the prosecution of the terrorist groups or governments responsible for the death of innocent children killed in terrorist operations all across the world.
Ali Salami, discourse analyst and human rights investigator, who also chaired the panel, reinforced the need for an immediate mechanism on the part of the UN body for facilitating access to justice for the children affected by terrorism in the world.
Pointing out that there are more than 200 definitions for terrorism, Salami said, “There is no consensus on the definition of terrorism. However, there are three common elements in every terrorist act: 1) there is a severe amount of violence; 2) civilians are targeted; 3) it is conducted for political or ideological reasons.”
Ricardo Baretzky, President of the European Centre for Information Policy and Security (ECIPS) emphasized that “the eCurrency BitCoin has been used in a global pyramid based Ponzi scheme; one specifically to fund terrorism and its providers.”
He called for the UN body to create special, multidisciplinary investigative centers to investigate and address high-priority issues such as nonproliferation, counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, international organized crime and narcotics trafficking, environment, and arms control intelligence.” He also urged the UN that there should be an international regulation, that victims are assisted and monitored in the interest of their physical and psychological well- being, in accordance with the United Resolution adopted by the General Assembly Part A of General Assembly resolution 217 (III). International Bill of Human Rights” that clearly states the justice in fundamental rights or people and their physical and psychological well- being.
Yoana Barakova, a research analyst at European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS), said, ‘Victims are often found in regions of impoverishment, violence and political volatility. They often carry certain major features such as limited education, lack of work opportunities, lack of family support, such as being orphans, runaways, homeless, or having family involved in illicit activities.”
Referring to Pakistan, she said terrorist organizations mainly originated as a result of the State’s policy of supporting other terrorist groups in its neighboring countries. Consequently, the country “became a hotbed for Islamic Jihad and the training of Jihadis. Alongside its frontiers with Afghanistan and India, and within Pakistan itself, the State hosts a big number of Madrassas. These Islamic schools are considered by many families in Pakistan as the only realistic option towards access of education for their children, especially among those who come from poor backgrounds, since the Madrassas provide food and shelter to their students. Poverty has helped expand enrolment in these pseudo educational establishments, since they prove the successful strategy of generating loyalty and unconditional obedience through the alleviation of the aspects of deprivation.”
Radicalization and religious indoctrination must be perceived as part of the whole process that leads to the recruitment of people by terrorist organizations, and therefore the current focus on securitization should also encompass integration and education. Ignorance, in this case on both sides, breeds radicalism, with terrorism as its outlet, she concluded.
Another panelist Chongsi Joseph, the executive director of the Center for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy reiterated the psychological impact of terrorism on children, saying that such victims are doubly traumatized and that they should be treated from different perspectives.
Isabela Fávero, another research analyst at EFSAS, said, “While exploiting children and using them as perpetrators of terrorist attacks is not a new terrorist tactic, the mass targeting of children as seen in Peshawar suggests that terrorists look for more shocking and horrible ways to grab the international spotlight. Violent extremist groups target what they perceive as the institutions of culture, and in particular, the institutions of Western culture, since they believe that the process of Westernization, which violates the strict Islamic doctrines, begins at school.”
She argued that the gruesome terrorist activities prove the pressing necessity for improvements in legislation concerning proper mechanisms and strategies on the implementation of public protection, efficient investigatory powers and human rights advocacy. Such amendments are imperative to ensure that violent incidents as these will be prevented. Access to justice is one such amendment. It refers to the ability of obtaining a remedy for violations of rights as put forth in international standards, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It applies to civil administrative and criminal spheres of national jurisdictions, including customary and religious justice mechanisms and international jurisdictions as well.
Also, in a video recorded for the conference, Jim Dean and Gordon Duff from Veterans Today referred to the gassing of a girls school by Taliban in 2010. It was not just one gas attack, they said, “but a series of them stretching throughout the year 2011. In 2012, the attacks were converted into poisoning, water poisoning; and the casualties were even higher.”
They said there is an aspect of terrorism which has been ignored even by the UN and that is state-sponsored terrorism. For children affected by terrorism, all we can do is to give them psychological care, medical care, and educate them. In America, people have no idea that Iran has something like 17000 victims of terrorism, that’s many many more times the 9/11 casualties. First we have to identify the countries which sponsor terrorism and exact some kind of penalty on them:
1) Reparation: who should pay for the broken life, tremendous damage, the crimes supported by states? Perhaps we cannot do it because some of these countries are around the Security Council.
2) Is the UN failing us in terms of the problems that we are facing? The UN appears to be helpless in dealing with state-sponsored terrorism. Because there is no mechanism to force these countries to stop. They basically have the militaries; and they can just sit back and play Mr. Tough Guy and just say what are you gonna do about it?”
Referring to Saudi Prince Bandar, Jim Dean and Gordon Duff said there is ample evidence that he was the key player in funneling money to terrorist groups such as Daesh and that Saudi Arabia made every conceivable effort to institutionalize fundamentalism in the region.
Mansoureh Karami, the wife of the assassinated Iranian physicist Masoud Ali-Mohammadi, urged the UN to facilitate access to justice for the children affected by terrorism. She said children are more vulnerable to terrorism as they fail to find sufficient strength to liberate themselves from the horror of terrorism.