UNODC Enhances Dialogue between Prison Services of Central Asia States to Prevent Radicalization to Violence in Prisons

Violent extremism is affront to the purposes and principles of the United Nations. It undermines peace and security, human rights and sustainable development. No country or region is immune from its impacts. Linkages between imprisonment and radicalization leading to violence become serious root of concern across the globe.

Aimed at strengthening interaction and international cooperation in preventing radicalization to violence and working with prisoners offended for terrorism and extremism crimes, the State Prison Service under the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic, in partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Programme office in the Kyrgyz Republic, conducted an International Forum "Central Asia: challenges and opportunities for penitentiary systems".

The Forum gathered around sixty representatives of the prisons systems across Central Asia which allowed to develop areas of joint efforts, recommendations to improve effective cooperation, learn about newly developed in Kyrgyzstan, a risk assessment and classification system.  

"There is a tendency to growth among imprisoned for terrorism and extremism in the country. Unfortunately, terrorism and extremism are evolving, taking on new forms and dimensions. The prevention of radicalism in the penitentiary system is very important", said Mr. Azamat Arayev, Head of the Department of Defense, Law and Emergencies of the Office of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic.

According to Mr. Taalaibek Nuraliev, First Deputy Chairman of the State Prison Service: "There is a large share of risks in the penitentiary system. For example, if there are no basic sanitary conditions in a prison, it is a risk of riot among prisoners. If there is no production and work, it is also a risk. The convicts are deprived of opportunity to work and get paid, the likelihood of prisoners succumbing to the adherents of radical movements, extremist organizations and so on increases sharply. I want to say that about 60% of these risks have been eliminated thanks to the programs implemented by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime".  

"During the Forum, a wide range of topics and urgent problems were discussed, requiring joint approaches based on international legislation, and the suggestions made would serve as a platform to strengthen the security of our countries and international stability, increase the level of interaction, exchange of experience, and use the most modern forms and methods of prevention and suppression of terrorist attacks, the spread and propaganda of violent extremism, the ideas of national, religious, social intolerance", stated Mr. Andrey Seleznev, Head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Programme Office in the Kyrgyz Republic. 

The participants discussed and developed effective approaches to the work of the penitentiary system staff  in Central Asia countries with violent extremism prisoners; exchanged information on their detention conditions; discussed forms of social, psychological, religious, theological and other work with violent extremism prisoners.

The UNODC Programme Office in the Kyrgyz Republic over the years of work in Kyrgyzstan has helped to improve prisoners' conditions, launched new types of production facilities and social rehabilitation programs. The last example is the reconstruction of a bakery in a women's prison, and it is planned to open a sewing and shoe production in prison # 2 and 3.

Mr. Andrey Seleznev elaborated on the joint work results. More than 800 staff members of the Kyrgyz Prison Service have been trained, monitoring of the Prison system work with imprisoned for terrorism and extremism contained in prisons was conducted. In addition, UNODC supported the Prison Service in opening and launching of the Center for Monitoring and Analysis, developing an electronic software which records, and analysis data of prisoners convicted for terrorism. The pilot institutions of the Prison Service (correctional facilities #16, #27 and #47) installed equipment and video surveillance system, renovations, improved the conditions of the family meeting rooms, built laundries, and opened productions, which will facilitate further rehabilitation and reintegration of prisoners into society.

UNODC supports the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic in preventing radicalization in closed institutions, penal colonies and in probation system, in order to implement the Government Program of the Kyrgyz Republic to Combat Extremism and Terrorism for 2017-2022 and implement the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Nelson Mandela Rules).

International Forum was a part of the UNODC Programme for Central Asia States for 2015-2019 and a joint UNODC and UNDP project "Prevention of radicalization to violence in the facilities and institutions of the prison system of the Kyrgyz Republic" implemented with the financial support from the UN Peace Building Fund.

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