Joint UNOCT/UNCCT-UNODC-CTED Project on Supporting the Management of Violent Extremist Prisoners and the Prevention of Radicalization to Violence in Prisons

Tuesday, 29 September 2020 - 10:00am

Launching Steering Committee Meeting in Tunisia

The first Steering Committee Meeting on the implementation of two joint initiatives, "Tawassol" and "Supporting the Management of Violent Extremist Prisoners and preventing radicalization to violence in prisons" (VEPs), was held on 28-30 September 2020 in Tunis, Tunisia. The event was organized by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism/United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNOCT/UNCCT), and the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), together with the Ministries of Justice and of Foreign Affairs of Tunisia and the General Committee of Prisons and Rehabilitation (CGPR).

The meeting was opened by H.E. Mr. Mohamed Boussetta, the Minister of Justice of Tunisia, Under Secretary General Voronkov, CTED Executive Director Coninsx and UNODC Executive Director Waly. All of them emphasized the key role of the projects aimed at addressing the management of violent extremist prisoners. H.E. Mr. Mohamed Boussetta stressed the importance of preventing and countering violent extremism (PCVE) inside prisons, and of preventing radicalization. “Prevention is better than cure,” Minister Bousetta stated. UNODC Executive Director Waly underlined UNODC’s expertise on the issue and  announced that the UNODC Handbook on Management of Violent Extremist Prisoners and the Prevention of Radicalization to Violence in Prisons was available in multiple languages including Arabic. USG Voronkov stressed the importance of adopting an “All-of-UN” approach to effectively address this challenge and praised the cooperation between UNOCT, UNODC and CTED on the project. “Preventing radicalization inside prisons is of utmost priority. Prison officials are working on the frontlines of the fight against terrorism and extremism. Their everyday routine work provides an opportunity to prevent radicalization and recruitment in prisons,” he said.

The UNODC Programme Coordinators and the UNOCT/UNCCT Programme Management Officer outlined the progress in the implementation of the project in two other countries, namely Kazakhstan and Uganda. Members of the Steering Committee also discussed a number of practical challenges related to the implementation of the project, such as limited access to sustainable internet connection to use on-line platforms for capacity building activities, prisoners’ unwillingness to participate in disengagement programmes, and legal limitations, which do not allow violent extremist prisoners to benefit from rehabilitation programmes.

The VEPs project aims to provide expertise and technical support to develop rehabilitation and reengagement approaches and programmes, as well as implement professional development opportunities into training curricula for prison staff. It also encourages correctional institutions in participating countries to pilot innovative programmes. For example, the project assists corrections services in Kazakhstan, Tunisia, and Uganda to implement new rehabilitation and reengagement practices and test new ways to work with violent extremist prisoners.

The 2018-2021 joint initiative on “Supporting the management of VEPs and the prevention of radicalization to violence in prisons” is co-funded by the European Union, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands, and is implemented in partnership with national partners.

For more information: Preventing violent extremism in prisons 

Picture of the Steering Committee Meeting in Tunisia on September 29