Supporting the Management of Violent Extremist Prisoners and the Prevention of Radicalisation to Violence in Prisons


PROJECT DURATION : December 2018 - December 2021


DONORS: European Union, United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and the Netherlands 


LOCATION: Kazakhstan, Tunisia and Uganda

IMPLEMENTING PARTNERS:                            



Supporting the management of violent extremist prisoners and the prevention of radicalisation to violence in prisons is a four year (2018-2021) joint initiative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT), implemented in partnership with the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (UNCTED). It is co-funded by the European Union, the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism and the Netherlands.

Violent extremism and radicalization in prisons is of increasing concern to the international community and one which presents specific technical challenges to Member States, including the ability to protect against, and disengage prisoners from ideologically-based violence.

All three beneficiary countries - Kazakhstan, Tunisia and Uganda - have experienced the direct consequences of terrorist attacks and recognize the risk of radicalization in prisons as a means of furthering violent extremist agendas. Their inclusion as beneficiaries follows close consultations with key state counterparts and national stakeholders, including civil society, to help identify specific needs and interests.

The global joint initiative will focus on strengthening the capacity of three beneficiary countries to address challenges posed by violent extremist prisoners in full compliance with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treat of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules) and other relevant international standards and norms, including from a gender perspective.



The global objective of the project is to contribute to strengthening the resilience of societies against violent extremism and radicalisation to violence while respecting human rights standards.

The specific objectives are

  • to prevent the progression to violent extremism (focusing on those prisoners who may be vulnerable), and
  • to effectively manage violent extremist prisoners (focusing on those prisoners who have embraced violent extremism), while respecting human rights standards.

Specific objectives and priority focus areas are the following:

  • Security and safety mechanisms: to strengthen security and safety mechanisms and capacities in prisons and among prison staff to reflect crucial importance of front-line prison officials' interaction with prisoners and further foster coordination and information-sharing among criminal justice agencies, and with other public agencies and non-governmental organizations involved in preventing or countering violent extremism.
  • Risks and needs assessment: to improve systems and skills of prison administration to individually assess the risks and needs of violent extremist prisoners as a basis for allocation and programming
  • Prison-based disengagement interventions: to enhance capacity of prison administrations to deliver inter-disciplinary disengagement interventions for violent extremist prisoners.
  • Social reintegration: to prevent violent extremist offenders from returning to violent extremist groups after release, and to emphasize education, vocational training, counselling, and family and community engagements as core elements of the social reintegration of violent extremist prisoners into society. It will also, subject to the national context, explore opportunities for alternatives to imprisonment for violent extremists in suitable cases.  



Periodic updates on key project events and news highlights on the global joint initiative on the management of violent extremist prisoners and the prevention of radicalization to violence are available here.

Country updates:

  • Tunisia: Strengthening partnership to prevent violent extremism in prisons - story here.
  • Joint Global Initiative on Preventing Violent Extremism in Prisons - Highlights 2020 Success.  
  • Building synergies between global and national initiatives on preventing violent extremism in prisons of Tunisia - here.
  • Building partnerships to defeat COVID-19 in prisons of Tunisia - here.
  • Uganda develops new tools for assessing the risks and needs of prisoners.
  • Validating Training Modules on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism in Prisons of Uganda.
  • Global Joint Initiative on Preventing Violent Extremism in Prisons continues support during COVID 19 pandemic - here
  • Online Art Masterclass held for prisoners on the basics of painting in prisons of 5 regions of Kazakhstan in partnership with the Prison Committee devoted to International Nelson Mandela Day - here
  • Online courses of Nelson Mandela Rules by over 1,100 prison officers and representatives of Kostanay Police Academy of Kazakhstan - here.
  • Virtual launch of Prison Staff Training Center on prevention of extremism - here and here.  
  • Major donation to boost COVID-19 response in Uganda's prisons - here
  • Kazakhstan Prison Service rolls out UNODC’S Interactive E-Learning Course on the Nelson Mandela Rules - here
  • Uganda develops Prisoner Classification Framework - here
  • Uganda strengthens capacity of Prison Officers to address violent extremism in prisons - here
  • The EU, the UN and the Netherlands Support Social Reintegration of Prisoners in Kazakhstan: Visit to Karagandy Region - here.
  • EU-UN Joint Initiative on Violent Extremist Prisoners facilitates Prosecution, Rehabilitation and Reintegration Strategies in Kazakhstan -  here
  • Kazakhstan, EU and UN Jointly Addressing Violent Extremism in Prisons -  here
  • Kazakh Prison Officers Studied the Basics of Prison Security Audit in Prison Facilities - here.  
  • Uganda joins global UNODC programme to prevent violent extremism in prisons -  here
  • Uganda, UN and EU launch joint initiative to counter violent extremism in prisons -  here
  • Uganda, UN Delivers Workshop on Prison Classification under Joint Global Programme to Prevent Violent Extremism in Prisons - here.
  • Tunisia joins global UNODC programme to prevent violent extremism in prisons - here.
  • EU-UN Joint Programme Unites Efforts with the Government of Kazakhstan in Preventing the Spread of Violent Extremism Ideology in Prisons -  here



The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Vienna

Vera Tkachenko

Programme Coordinator