December 14, 2016
Washington – The International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ), with grant funding from the United States, hosted a global workshop in Valletta, Malta on December 12-13, 2016, on efforts to address prison radicalization. Prison officials from a number of countries and representatives from international organizations and NGOs compared notes on global and regional trends regarding radicalization to violence in prisons. They reviewed and discussed a range of reference tools, which included handbooks as well as good practices and recommendations documents aimed at addressing prison radicalization that have been developed over the past two years by international experts. They also shared specific experiences and insights related to prison radicalization, such as risk assessments, housing of terrorist inmates, and rehabilitation.
Representatives from Algeria, France, Italy, Ireland, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Netherlands, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Niger, Spain, Tunisia, the United Kingdom, and the United States attended. Experts from Penal Reform International, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, the Global Center on Cooperative Security, and the International Counterterrorism Center – The Hague also participated.
Research into the causes of violent extremism has shown that prisons often play an important role as incubators of radicalization for disenfranchised individuals. Some of the terrorists who played a role in recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Copenhagen, and Brussels may have been radicalized to violence while in prison. Through this global workshop and subsequent regional events, we seek to promote the knowledge and use of numerous recently-developed reference tools that provide examples and guidance on how to mitigate, detect, and address prison radicalization and recruitment. In addition, these workshops will help underscore that sound prison policies and procedures can help minimize opportunities for recruitment within prisons and help prison officials to deal effectively with radicalization within their facilities. Finally, this workshop consolidates information that may have been presented at previous workshops and training sessions focused on the management and rehabilitation of terrorist inmates.