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Child Spies in the UK and the Moral Dilemmas Surrounding It

by Abdul Hussain

CNN News, and the Independent has reported on June 11, 2019 that the UK Government are in the High Court for its use of children to spy for the Government to combat crimes, from sexual crimes, to drug gangs, as this is putting vulnerable youngsters at risk of “severe physical and emotional harm”, the High Court has heard

A charity Just For Kids Law, via its lawyers, has raised concerns over the use of children as spies as it compromises the safety and wellbeing of children, and that there is inadequate protection for children such as having access to appropriate adults, and informing parents/next-of-kin of the use of children as informants, while the UK Home Secretary (2019), Sajid Javid, via his defence team, argued that “juveniles”, in the context of covert human intelligence sources (CHIS), are used in the interests of national security, to help crack down on crimes as a whole, in which the British Security Services has basically confessed to this in the year preceding the Just For Kids Law-Sajid Javid CHIS case, with additional reporting from The Guardian.

In addition to the confession made by the British Security Services, the human rights concerns surrounding this practice has been raised in 2018, with the then-reported ex-UK Conservative Party cabinet minister David Davis branding the practice as “morally repugnant”, and Diane Abbott calling for the end of this practice immediately, alongside mainstream non-profit human rights-themed organizations.

As for the NGO outcries, Allan Hogarth, Amnesty International UK’s head of policy and government affairs, said that it was “shocking and unacceptable” to expose children to the dangers associated with undercover operations, Corey Stoughton, then-advocacy director for Liberty, branded the practice as “deeply troubling”, and that vulnerable children are exactly as described – vulnerable, thus needing protecting, and not exposure to violence and crime, especially when used as government assets, and Massoud Shahjerh, then-chair of the Islamic Human Rights Council, made comparisons to the child spy programme to the Prevent programme, and brands it as “a community-wide spying programme that makes mothers spy on their own children”, and as well as this, there is an even more in-depth article on the UK’s use of child spies here

Unfortunately for the UK Government, the outcries and concerns made at governmental, and non-governmental level have been realised, as a victim of sex crimes was involved in the child spy programme, only for her to become accessory to murder, and with the Just for Kids Law-Sajid Javid case being made, this practice is only going to be looked at in an even more unfavourable slant, not that this practice was looked at in a morally angelic light in the very first place.

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