Strengthening Juvenile Justice Systems in the counter-terrorism context: Capacity-building and peer-learning among stakeholders

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As the European agenda and recent events demonstrate, the issues of radicalisation and violent extremism, which may be conducive to terrorism, have increasingly become a priority for most Member States.

However, in the midst of the rush to enact counter-terrorism legislation at national and European levels, little if any consideration has been given to the fact that some of the suspected or alleged ‘terrorists’ could be children or underage juveniles.

The way terrorist suspects are treated in general needs to be considered in relation to the particular impact it may have on suspected girls and boys under the age of 18, who are children before they are suspects. Nevertheless, children adapted policies and practices in the field of counter-terrorism do not exist in most European Union Member States (EUMS) and where they do, they are specific to each country and promising experiences are not shared between Member States.

Moreover, juvenile justice agencies and practitioners as well as social actors in many EUMS have expressed a pressing need for support to help them identify, prevent and deal with radicalisation and extreme violence in children and young adults.

In consequence, the project “Strengthening Juvenile Justice Systems in the counter-terrorism context: Capacity-building and peer-learning among stakeholders” (JUST-2015-JCOO-AG-TERR) aims to address juveniles’ unique situation and their protection under international and European law in the context of counter-terrorism.

It equally addresses the requirement and urgency for juvenile justice systems to resort to diversion, alternatives and community based measures in addition to, and where possible instead of, usual criminal justice responses in the treatment of radicalised juveniles.

Moreover, due to the special situation of vulnerability and risk of being recruited in detention, it is essential to draw special attention to children deprived of liberty. The prevention of juvenile radicalisation in detention, as well as the need to design de-radicalisation and social inclusion programmes, are also a component of this project.

The project launches in January 2017 and is expected to end approximately in December 2018.

Main Activities

  • Research and analytical work. Identification, analysis and highlight of promising practices regarding counter-terrorism and public policies, strategies and programmes directed at radicalised juveniles in partners' MS; analysis and mapping of promising practices at the European level, identification of key success factors, impact assessment and validation of these experiences.
  • Study/field visits followed by national seminars: highlighted promising practices in partners' countries are observed and studied, and later discussed during national seminars.
  • Drafting of a policy-oriented white paper, including recommendations and guidelines based on the project’s results, for EUMS and EU institutions, as well as for practitioners of juvenile justice systems.
  • Drafting of a regional overview report on promising policy responses and practices, based on the results of the research.
  • Launching and managing of an online community of practice for European practitioners, which allows the sharing of practices, experiences and ideas, as well as the implementation of possibilities, regarding counter-terrorism policies and programmes directed at juveniles.
  • Final conference in Paris to present the results of the project and the draft white paper.

Click here to go to the project's web section on the IJJO website.



This project aims at identifying, promoting and strengthening juvenile justice systems’ policy responses and specialised programming to face terrorism and violent extremism in juveniles. Practices will be evaluated based on evidence and on their efficacy in countering radicalisation in children and juveniles. In order to accomplish that, the IJJO, which has acquired thorough knowledge and experience in the field, will work with partners from Member States which face the issue of radicalisation and terrorism acutely, as well as with members of the European Council for Juvenile Justice. Moreover, the participation of young people will ensure that their views are adequately taken into account.

The specific objectives of the project are:

  • To gather information, evidence and lessons learned from promising and validated policies, programmes and practices concerning terrorism and violent extremism in juveniles within 6 European juvenile justice systems;
  • To analyse public policies responses and programmes aiming to prevent and treat violent radicalisation of juveniles through the implementation of adapted measures for children in detention, and of social reintegration programmes identified through the research;
  • To participate in the development of effective community-based alternatives and diversion measures concerning rehabilitation programmes for radicalised children in partners’ States.
  • To stimulate, promote and develop validated practices to be used by juvenile justice systems in the de-radicalisation, disengagement and rehabilitation of boys and girls and young adults;
  • To disseminate knowledge through the creation and monitoring of an Online Community of Practice, and to make use of the received feedback to improve the discussed practices.
  • To disseminate policy-oriented recommendations, lessons learned, and guidelines for EU institutions, national agencies, and judicial staff and practitioners at the European level.

Expected Results

  • Identified and mapped-out policy responses, as well as promising experiences carried out by EUMS in the handling of the terrorist threat, preventing radicalisation and implementing de-radicalisation strategies.
  • Promotion of a regional dialogue and knowledge sharing within policy-makers and practitioners.
  • Improvement of national criminal policies and programmes in juvenile justice systems and more efficient judicial counter-terrorism policies directed at juvenile suspects.
  • Improvement of the capacities and the knowledge of juvenile justice professionals to face extremist phenomena and implement effective responses.
  • Improvement and tailor-made programming to risk factors and individual circumstances of radicalised or at risk boys, girls and juveniles.
  • Promotion of evidence-based policy-making and of specialisation in the design and implementation of new policies and programming on counter-terrorism and radicalisation.
  • Enhancement of social integration and reinsertion of radicalised juveniles.

Expected Outputs

  • 9 National reports translated into English.
  • 3 Conclusions of field visits and national seminars.
  • A Regional Overview Report
  • 1 Online Community of Practice.
  • A White Paper (in French and English)


International Juvenile Justice Observatory (Belgium)


Senator für Justiz und Verfassung, Federal Ministry of Justice of Germany (Germany)

Ministry of Justice of Belgium (Belgium)

Penitentiary for Minors and Juveniles Tichilesti, The National Prison Administration (Romania)

Educational Center Tg. Ocna, The National Prison Administration (Romania)

University of Zagreb Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences (Croatia)

Faculty of Law, University of Miskolc (Hungary)

Ludwig Boltzmann Institute (Austria)

Latvian Centre for Human Rights (Latvia)

Protection Judiciaire de la Jeunesse, Ministry of Justice of France (France)

180 (The Netherlands)

Fundación Diagrama (Spain)

Defence for Children International – DCI (The Netherlands)


Co-funded by the Justice Programme of the European Union

The website section for this project was funded by the European Union’s Justice Programme (2014-2020). The contents of it are the sole responsibility of the “Strengthening Juvenile Justice Systems in the counter-terrorism context” project partners, and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Commission.