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Kazakhstan, UN and EU jointly addressing violent extremism in prisons

26.03.2019 7993
The Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) signed today a so-called Country Working Plan to tackle violent extremism in local prisons. 
The three-year, USD 6,91 mln Global Programme is officially named "Supporting the management of violent extremist prisoners and the prevention of radicalization to violence in prisons" and is co-financed by the European Union (USD 4,72 mln), the Government of the Netherlands (USD 1,4 mln) and the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT - USD 0,79 mln).
The Programme lasts till 2021 and will be implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) jointly with UNCCT and the UN Counter -Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED). The Country Working Plan was developed together with the Kazakh state authorities, implementing partners and civil society. It includes risks and needs assessment of prisoners, prison-based rehabilitation programs as well as post release support and alternatives to imprisonment, the official website of the Delegation of the European Union to Kazakhstan reads.
Mr. Janat Suleimanov, First Deputy of the Minister of Interior of the Republic of Kazakhstan, noted that "the Ministry of Interior pays particular attention to the development and implementation of effective measures to eliminate the spread of extremism within prisons. Thus, since April 2017, the theological rehabilitation service has been functioning in the penitentiary system. This service is responsible for implementation of disengagement interventions, including faith-based programs. He also informed that "Prison system jointly with other state bodies, conducts professional training off staff, develops methodological guidelines and various training materials on theological rehabilitation of prisoners."

The European Union is a reliable partner to Kazakhstan in support of rule of law, judicial reform and modernization of the penitentiary system. Just during the last 5 years we have committed and made significant contributions to this end amounting to more than EUR 12 million to bilateral projects in the justice sector in Kazakhstan in addition to regional projects covering Central Asia addressing justice and security issues amounting to more than EUR 70 million. The EU welcomes concrete steps taken by the Government of Kazakhstan to improve criminal legislation, enhance the capacity of criminal justice institutions and promote the use of non-custodial sanctions and alternatives to imprisonment. This is all the more important, since - despite efforts to tackle the issue and certain results - inhuman treatment still remains a serious problem in prisons and pre-trial detention centers, a situation which also risks to undermine any effective actions against the spreading of violent extremism in these facilities. It is therefore important to recall that full respect of Human Rights is an integral part of this process" said Ambassador Sven-Olov Carlsson, Head of the European Union's Delegation to Kazakhstan.


Any efforts in prisons to address violent extremism must not lead to undermining fundamental human rights to which all persons, including violent extremist prisoners, are entitled, including the freedom of thought, religion or belief, and the absolute prohibition of torture", stressed Dirk Jan Kop, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Astana.

During the event, Mr. Norimasa Shimomura, UN Resident Coordinator for Kazakhstan, emphasized the need to closely embed any intervention targeting violent extremist prisoners in broader prison reform efforts.

A good prison system constitutes a fundamental basis for the effective management of all prisoners, including violent extremist prisoners. Stand-alone interventions for violent extremist prisoners which are implemented in isolation of the broader prison context are unlikely to yield positive results."

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