How UK Anti-Terror Guidance Could Violate Children’s Human Rights

There are enormous dangers in the way child protection legislation in the UK intersects with Channel, the government’s anti-radicalization program. There are only a few legal steps between the suggested interventions set out in the Channel guidance and the possibility of a child being removed from their home because their family’s political views are unacceptable and don’t adhere to “British values.”

This runs the risk of violating the overriding principles of both domestic UK child protection law and children’s rights set down in the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It has also been argued that it breaches the European Convention on Human Rights.

This has happened in the recent past in countries such as Hungary and Argentina, also motivated by a desire to “save” children from harmful influences. Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, the Nobel laureate and human rights activist, has pointed out that both the Church and military in Argentina justified removing and placing children from political opponents for adoption as a necessary step to protect them from harmful influences.

Alarm Bells

Channel is part of the government’s overall Prevent strategy issued in 2011. While the statute does not refer to children or young people, guidance for the panels focuses almost entirely on interventions relevant to young people with only cursory references to “vulnerable” adults. Section 2 of the guidance states emphatically that preventing “radicalization” is a “protection” issue that may require action by social workers:


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