Violent extremism and radicalization to violence in prisons is of increasing concern to the international community. It presents specific technical challenges to Member States, as prison administrations have to focus not only on ensuring the secure and safe custody of violent extremist prisoners, but also on preventing radicalisation to violence within prisons, disengaging prisoners from future violence, and preparing those being released for their reintegration into the community.
UNODC supports Member States in the management of violent extremist prisoners as part of a broader prison reform efforts and in full compliance with international human rights standards, including the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules)with full attention on age and gender perspectives.
Read the final Achievements Report for the 'Supporting the management of violent extremist prisoners and the prevention of radicalisation to violence in prison' programme, which ran from 2018-2022 in Kazakhstan, Tunisia and Uganda.
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In response to Member States requests, UNODC developed the first UN comprehensive technical guide on the management of violent extremist prisoners and the prevention of radicalization to violence in prisons and is helping governments to translate this manual into effective action on the ground. Along with the Handbook on the Management of Violent Extremist Prisoners and the Prevention of Radicalization to Violence in Prisons, UNODC also launched the Key Principles and Recommendations for the Management of Violent Extremist Prisoners and the Prevention of Radicalization to Violence in Prisons. These key recommendations focus on the following priority areas:
More than 20 Member States are currently benefiting from UNODC assistance dedicated to addressing violent extremism in prisons – in the Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia, and in South and South-East Asia. Across these initiatives, UNODC embeds interventions to prevent violent extremism in prisons into broader prison reform efforts, which is far more effective than promoting standalone interventions which target only violent extremist prisoners. UNODC works in partnership with the United Nations Counter –Terrorism Centre of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNCCT/UNOCT), United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (UNCTED), UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP, UNAFEI, international and regional development partners, civil society organisations, universities, and many others. These initiatives have been made possible through the generous support of the European Union, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (The Nelson Mandela Rules) and supplementary guides
E-learning course on the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners
Handbook on the Management of Violent Extremist Prisoners and the Prevention of Radicalization to Violence in Prisons
Handbook on the Management of High-Risk Prisoners
Handbook on Dynamic Security and Prison Intelligence
Handbook on the Classification of Prisoners
Handbook on Gender Dimensions of Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism
For the full list of UNODC handbooks and tools please visit Tools and publications
UNODC expresses its gratitude for the donor contributions provided by the European Union, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism and the Governments of Germany, the Netherlands, the United States of America and the United Kingdom to implement technical assistance activities on preventing violent extremism in prisons.