The Council of Europe today issued a set of guidelines to its 47 member states to prevent the radicalisation of prisoners and people under probation, and rehabilitate individuals who have already become radicalised. CEP has taken part in its advisory role at the PC-CP and through out the discussions at the Directors General meeting held in The Hague, last November 2015.

According to official reports, some perpetrators of terrorist acts have in recent years become radicalised in prison or under probation. Overcrowding, inadequate conditions, manifestations of racist discrimination or islamophobia, disproportionate disciplinary measures are factors that increase the risk of radicalisation among inmates. Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland said: “Fighting terrorism is a priority. We need a united and co-ordinated response. Action is also needed to deal with violent extremist offenders in prisons and to prevent them from radicalising inmates. The guidelines can be a useful tool in that regard”.

Adopted by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, the guidelines endorse the good management of prisons as an indispensable basis for the prevention of radicalisation and the introduction of efficient exit and reintegration programmes. The guidelines promote the concept of dynamic security – meaning that prison staff should not only guard the inmates, but communicate with them, know their concerns and be trained to recognise signs of radicalisation, evaluate the risks and deal with the problem. They also need to be trained in inter-cultural mediation and crisis management. Prison administrations should take into account cultural and religious traditions about nutrition, clothing, opportunities of worship and religious holidays. Agreements with religious denominations should ensure an adequate presence of religious representatives of every faith. In order to favour their social re-integration, prisoners and probationers at risk of becoming radicalised should be offered appropriate educational activities and special treatment programmes – including the use of mentors and selected former violent extremists who may serve as positive examples.

The guidelines can be downloaded here.

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