Prison security is one of the foundations of good prison management. It is essential for the safety of prisoners, prison staff and the wider community outside the prison, and lays the groundwork for other interventions supporting rehabilitation and social reintegration.
When it comes to high-risk prisoners, such as those convicted of terrorism-related offences, good prison security is all the more vital.
UNODC is a longstanding, active participant in the global fight against terrorism, and in Iraq delivers the Returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTF) in Detention Programme, funded by the U.S. Government and run under the UNODC Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa.
It was as part of this programme that in December 2022 UNODC conducted dynamic security training for prison staff in the country.
There are three key elements to prison security: physical security, procedural security and dynamic security.
When it comes to high-risk prisoners such as returning foreign terrorist fighters, it can be the case that excessive attention is placed on the physical and procedural aspects of security, while the importance of dynamic security is not appreciated. In some prison systems, staff interaction with high-security prisoners is actively discouraged. Yet in reality the principles of dynamic security apply particularly to high-security prisoners to ensure that potential escapes, incidents, and threats to safety of others can be prevented and dealt with before they take place.
In Iraq, the FTF programme enhances the capacity of prison administrations to deliver inter-disciplinary disengagement interventions for FTF prisoners. The programme aims to ensure the safe, secure, and humane detention of FTF detainees and prisoners, as well as enhancing the capacity of local authorities to effectively manage and mitigate threats posed by terrorist and FTF prisoners and preventing radicalization to violence in prisons. Dynamic security plays a key role.
From 6-8 December training participants gathered in Erbil. Participants included staff working in adult prisons and detention facilities, as well as representatives of the Public Relations Directorate at the Ministry of Justice; Counterterrorism Section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and the National Security Advisory. Training was delivered byFTF programme staff, complemented by international experts from Sweden, Germany and Bulgaria. The training was interactive, with experts engaging participants in discussions in an open forum which encouraged feedback, questions and recommendations. The participants actively and enthusiastically involved themselves in all sessions.
Post-training feedback was very positive, with participants praising the methodology, structure, subject matter and experience of the presenters. Delegates from the Ministry of Justice requested future ‘train the trainer’ sessions for prison staff to further embed the approach. “On behalf of the Ministry of Justice in Iraq, I would like to thank UNODC office for this important training on strengthening the capacity of the prison service to apply dynamic security,” commented Mr. Majeed Abdulradhah, Deputy Director General for Planning Affair Adult Reformatory Directorate, Ministry of Justice.
UNODC’s work in Iraq contributes to Sustainable Development Goal 16 – to ‘Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.’ Through our close work with local authorities, we aim to strengthen Iraq’s institutional capacity to address the security needs posed by terrorist and FTF prisoners, through enhanced dynamic security skills, new equipment, and security upgrades.
Speaking at the training one of the trainers, Mr Daniel Tiensuu Rytz, Head of Operational Intelligence at the Swedish Prison and Probation Service, commented, “It is a privilege to learn together with international colleagues. In a complex world, dynamic security and the ability to adapt are more important than ever. When you see how much you can influence and help with small funds when we collaborate across national borders, you quickly realize that we have to do more together.”