CEP Vice-President Sue Hall attended the 9th  Meeting of the Council for Penological Co-operation held in Strasbourg, 22-24 April 2015. Main topic was the development of an early draft of Guidelines on the role prison and probation services can play in dealing with radicalisation and violent extremism. A recap.

‘I attended the 9th meeting of the Working Group in Strasbourg between 22-24 April 2015.  Although most of the discussions took place within the working group, observers were allowed to contribute.  Part of my brief was to ensure that sufficient account was taken of the probation perspective on behalf of CEP.

The main topic was the development of an early draft of  ‘Guidelines on the role prison and probation services can play in dealing with radicalisation and violent extremism’.  PC-CP has been requested to produce a further draft for discussion at the Council of Europe Conference of Directors of Prison and Probation Services to be held in Bucharest in June.

Radicalisation is currently also a priority for the European Commission which has established the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN).  It has also published a Communication:  ‘Preventing Radicalisation to Terrorism and Violent Extremism: Strengthening the EU’s Response” (COM 2013 941).  It was therefore important for the PC-CP to define the contribution that a Council of Europe document could add to other work being undertaken.

For this reason the first draft focused on ensuring that treatment of individuals and groups – particularly in prison – did not lead to an infringement of human rights.  The aim however is to produce a document which is not just a re-statement of good practice as expressed through the existing European Probation and Prison Rules.

It became apparent that trying to develop specific rules which give positive guidance is difficult.  It is recognised that these rules will only relate to a minority of individuals in prison or subject to community sanctions. Research and evidence of effective practice is still at an early stage. There are many routes through which individuals become radicalised but not all radicalised individuals go on to commit violent acts.  Although poor prison conditions or social conditions increase the likelihood of radicalisation for some individuals, these are not the only factors – all countries are facing problems and radicalised individuals can be drawn from any sector of society.

Despite these challenges progress was made in developing the content, but significant amount of work remains to be done in producing the next draft.

The experience of observing the PC-CP working group was extremely interesting.  Further information on the work of the PC-CP can be found on the PC-CP website.

The PC-CP working group

The Council for Penological Co-operation (PC-CP) works to the European Committee on Crime Problems within the Council of Europe. It is responsible for developing the European Rules on Community Sanctions and Measures, the European Prison Rules, the European Probation Rules, the European Rules for Juvenile Offenders subject to Sanctions and Measures and the recent Recommendation on Electronic Monitoring.

The PC-CP working group has 9 members from different European countries and is chaired by Mauro Palma from Italy (see list below). CEP has observer status, as does EuroPris.  Representatives from the EU, the Council for the Prevention of Torture and from the USA, Russian Federation and Denmark were also present.

Members of the PC-CP Working Group

Chair: Mauro Palma  (Italy)

Vice Chair: Alina Barbu (Romania)

Harald Føsker (Norway)

Vivian Gerian (Ireland)

Antanas Jatkevičius (Lithuania)

Joerg Jesse (Germany)

Attial Juhász (Hungary)

Dominik Lehner (Switzerland)

Peter Lindströhm (Sweden)

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