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Challenges of radicalisation in prisons

Statement by Ambassador Mona Juul at the Arria-meeting on challenges of radicalisation in prisons, 12 November 2019.

| Arria-meeting

I would like to start by thanking the panel members for beginning such a rich discussion.

I have the pleasure of delivering this statement also on behalf of Jordan as co-chairs of the Group of Friends on Preventing Violent Extremism.

Excellencies,

As we know, negative interactions between prisoners has always been a risk in correctional systems.

However, with today’s global security threats, and the return of foreign terrorist fighters, there is an increasing need to develop new standards in order to prevent radicalization in prisons.

In Norway, we have had more than one hundred cases of inmates vulnerable for radicalization since 2015.

These experiences have taught us how to better assess and manage the risk posed by violent extremist prisoners.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to share a few lessons learned from the Norwegian context here today:

Firstly, knowledge has to be fresh, updated and well known.

It is necessary to develop information sharing systems that allow for concerns to be discussed with: the right people, who have the right knowledge, and also with the right services.

Here, developing joint mechanisms and a multidisciplinary approach is essential.

Secondly, staff must be given proper training.

They need to know what to look for, and how to handle inmates.

This also involves creating opportunities for staff and inmates to interact. Allowing staff to observe and motivate inmates.

And finally, it is vital to create prison environments that facilitate reintegration and rehabilitation.

Prisons must be aware of the role they could play in a radicalization process. And inmates need tailor-made approaches and individual plans.

This includes working at an early stage with the prisoners’ on their release, and facilitating interdisciplinary cooperation.

Colleagues,

All of these experiences have taught us that cooperation is crucial.

But also that: it is easy to talk about, but much harder to do.

This is also true on the international level, where it is vital to share good practices among States.

In this spirt, I would also like to present some experiences from my co-chair Jordan:  

In 2015, Jordan established The Community Peace Center, as a major pillar of their national strategy to prevent violent extremism. It serves as a hub for efforts focused on PVE. And does so through engaging the community in countering extreme narratives, and promoting moderation, modernity and coexistence.

They report that the Community Peace Center’s strategy to combat extreme ideology on traditional media and social media platforms- both online, and off line- has helped eliminate extreme content.

Jordan has also found through their rehabilitation processes the significance of the psychological and physical dimensions.

Particularly the importance of interactive dialogue with radicalized individuals. Engaging with them on their own values, and the values of their religion. Combined with promoting their social and economic inclusion, has led to success.

Colleagues,

Like Jordan, Norway remains committed to increasing cooperation, and promoting dialogue towards tackling this issue. And to this end, we truly welcome the discussion today.

We also remain committed to continuing this discussion through the Group of Friends of Corrections in Peace Operations, and of course the Group of Friends on Preventing Violent Extremism.

Thank you.