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Promoting effective disengagement, rehabilitation, and reintegration programmes of violent extremists in prison settings

Specialized training in Mali

Bamako, Mali -

Specialized training in Mali for prison personnel

From 7 to 9 December 2016 the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) organized a specialized training on rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremist offenders in prison. The initiative was implemented in cooperation with the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, The Hague (ICCT), and the support of the Justice and Correction Section of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA/JCS).

The training was addressed to the prison personnel of the Central Prison of Bamako (Maison Centrale d'Arret de Bamako - MCA) and focused on the psychological dimension of violent extremist offenders in prisons, risks indicators of extremism and methods and strategies for sustainable deradicalization and rehabilitation.

The course was part of the programme on rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremists that UNICRI implements within the framework of the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF). The programme is conceived to support Member States in their efforts to design, develop and implement effective disengagement, rehabilitation, and reintegration programmes.

Governments are increasingly developing enhanced strategies to reduce the appeal of terrorism, limit the pool of potential recruits and enact appropriate measures for the rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremists, especially in prison settings. Prisons may provide an environment where extremists can network, recruit and radicalize inmates, compare and exchange tactics and even direct deadly operations occurring outside of the prison. Most imprisoned extremists will eventually be released and is therefore fundamental to support disengagement from violent behaviour and reintegration into society. The prison setting can serve as a place where the tide of violent radicalism can be reversed. Prisoners, in fact, live in a controlled environment, where the negative influences from their past can be minimized.

Prison services can play a crucial role in positively influencing violent extremists while they are in custody, particularly by adopting innovative approaches to facilitate the transition of prisoners back into mainstream society.

Specialized programmes to enhance capacity and tailored to local needs, cultures and national legal frameworks, are therefore needed and in this respect countries can benefit from sharing lessons learned and good practices.

As part of the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force of the United Nations, UNICRI contributes to the implementation of coordinated and coherent efforts across the UN system to prevent and counter terrorism. One of the critical mandates of the Institute is to support Member States in preventing and countering the appeal of terrorism and recruitment by strengthening national capacity.

The Institute assists Member States, at their request, in designing, developing and implementing rehabilitation and reintegration programmes for violent extremists in prison settings. UNICRI programme is based on a multi-disciplinary approach, engaging inmates in the areas of religion, social welfare, psychology, parole program, after care, and other disciplines deemed necessary. The programme offers tailored capacity-building and mentoring assistance based on good practices and solid methods. The initiative promotes the implementation of the Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners called for by the Rome Memorandum on Good Practices for Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Violent Extremist Offenders, Based on a broad range of good practices and proven methods, UNICRI provides tailored technical assistance to institutions aimed at improving their capacity to assess needs and implement effective disengagement, rehabilitation and reintegration programmes.