SADC workshop targets prisons to prevent violent extremism breeding

351

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) recognises prison and correctional facilities in its member states can be places where radicalisation and “engagement with extremist groups” happens and is taking measures to ensure identification and prevention.

This is in the form of workshops, the most recent in Johannesburg, on preventing radicalisation to violent extremism and violence in prison.

Objectives included enhancing knowledge on preventing radicalisation, engaging with extremist groups and extremist behaviour during detention and probation. Correctional and prison service delegates were supplied information on current practices and issues relevant to managing violent extremist offenders and individuals considered at risk of engaging in violent extremism in prison and on probation.

Training further aimed at providing knowledge and expertise on conflict prevention through understanding and explaining factors that cause and trigger “further breeding grounds for extremist terrorism” in correction/prison/penitentiary environments a statement said.

Opening the workshop Assistant Commissioner Maria Ipinge said the SADC region is among few communities that enjoy peace and stability in Africa, if not in the world. It is not immune to insurgencies with correctional/prison facilities increasingly becoming soft targets for recruitment into extremist groups according to her. This creates a need to strengthen the sector’s capacity to prevent and respond to violent incarcerated extremists.

Acting Director of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Affairs in the SADC Secretariat, Kealeboga Moruti, multi-layered conflict prevention and peacebuilding dynamics require a multi-sectoral approach to address and develop sustainable solutions. Corrections/prison/penitentiary service is, according to her, a critical partner in supporting durable peacebuilding efforts.

During the workshop, delegates unpacked the SADC Regional Counter Terrorism Strategy (2021-2026). This recognises that terrorism remains a global phenomenon and is one a major threat to international peace and security, economic development, and social integration. The strategy sets out the role of prisons in managing and preventing violent extremism, strategies for managing violent extremist prisoners, dynamic security, intelligence gathering, overcoming conditioning and the role of corrections in peace support operations (PSOs).