The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's Terrorism Prevention Branch delivered a cross-regional workshop for South and South-East Asia on preventing violent extremism through rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremist and terrorist offenders and strengthening partnerships with civil society organizations (CSOs) and the local community in Colombo on 26-28 February 2019. The event was funded by the Government of Japan.
The three-day event brought together beneficiaries from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. The participants discussed criminal justice approaches to effectively counter the threat of violent extremism leading to terrorism from a whole-of-society perspective at both the national and regional level.
During the event, participants shared good practices, national experiences, challenges, lessons learned and unique approaches to rehabilitating and reintegrating violent extremists and terrorists. Discussions were also held on the rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremist offenders in prison settings.
Throughout the course of the event, strong emphasis was placed on information-sharing and strengthening the knowledge of the beneficiaries to promote effective networks and partnerships between criminal justice authorities, local communities and CSOs. Moreover, experts and practitioners were invited to present real-life cases of rehabilitation of violent extremist and terrorist offenders through psychological and spiritual counselling as well as vocational training.
The event also included a special session on former combatants who were recruited and radicalized at a young age and were then successfully rehabilitated and reintegrated into society. They were invited to speak at the event and to share their personal experience.
The workshop offered a platform to identify good practices as well as gaps and needs within preventing violent extremism through rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremist and terrorist offenders. Furthermore, the information acquired during the event will inform the design of future capacity-building events within the region and beyond.