A regional workshop for Southeast Europe on “Prison Monitoring and Human Rights Protection in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization to Terrorism (VERLT) in Prisons” (“Detention monitoring and the protection of human rights while preventing and countering violent extremism and radicalization that terrorism (VERLT) in prisons”) was held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on September 13–14, 2023.
The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), in collaboration with the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, hosted the training. In addition to effectively avoiding and combating violent extremism and terrorism in prisons, the workshop’s goal was to promote independent prison monitoring and greater surveillance for better protection of the rights of people who are being held in custody.
Professor Dr Alexandra Gruevska Drakulevski, a co-founder of the Macedonian Penological Society, spoke at the event on the subject of “Protection of Human Rights in Prisons While Preventing Radicalization Leading to Terrorism or Violence: The Case of the Republic of North Macedonia”. It was stressed in the presentation that the Republic of North Macedonia takes seriously the issue of preventing and combating violent extremism and radicalization of terrorism (VERLT) in prisons while working to uphold inmates’ rights. According to their annual reports, the key institutions involved in the process—the National Committee for the Prevention of Violent Extremism and the Fight Against Terrorism, the National Preventive Mechanism, the Ombudsman, and civil society organizations—had their activities briefly summarized.
More than 60 national and international specialists, as well as representatives from pertinent institutions and penal professionals from Southeast Europe, where the OSCE has field operations, attended the event.
The ultimate lesson is that it is critical to take action to stop radicalization in jails. The next step is to increase public knowledge, encourage tolerance, and facilitate the reintegration of exiled foreign terrorist fighters into society. Following a risk assessment for each individual is required to provide measures and activities for their effective reintegration back into society. By successfully reintegrating these individuals, not only will future criminal behaviours of these individuals be stopped, but also the threat of radicalization of other individuals will be eliminated, which will be advantageous for both the individuals and society at large. Our nation should learn from the reintegration program implementation experience of European nations as well as from the assistance provided by international organizations. States have a duty to stop and combat terrorism, but this duty cannot be carried out at the expense of the human rights of prisoners.