A Seminar focusing on Radicalisation prevention and risk assessment tools was organised on 15 and 16 March in the Council of Europe’s premises in Strasbourg, gathering over 50 participants from more than 10 countries and covering several professional categories such as judges, prosecutors, prison and probation officers and experts, as well as academics and members of international associations.
The Seminar is the first of a series of three to be organised under the European Union-Council of Europe Radicalisation Prevention Project, which is funded by the EU and implemented by the Council of Europe HELP Programme. The Project aims at improving the criminal justice response in the EU to prevent radicalisation leading to terrorism and violent extremism by increasing the capacities and mutual trust of primarily justice practitioners dealing with radicalisation prevention through training, inter-agency and cross-border cooperation. The 2-year project started in October 2017 and will target legal professionals (judges and prosecutors) as well as prison and probation staff.
The importance of the phenomenon or radicalisation leading to terrorism or extreme violence, particularly affecting a number of EU countries, and the need to tackle and prevent has prompted the Council of Europe to activate its core areas of work: standard-setting, monitoring and cooperation. It is also clear that the Council of Europe and the EU need to join forces in this field for the security and upholding of human rights of Europeans. Furthermore, learning and cooperating with non-Council of Europe countries suffering from this phenomenon is also crucial, particularly from neighbouring South Mediterranean region. The Seminar aimed to gather core actors in the field of radicalisation prevention coming from various professional environments and from different countries with a view to exchanging on the issue of structured professional judgment and use of risk assessment tools at all relevant stages of intervention. The presence of so many experts in the field, with more than 20 also intervening as speakers, proves the crucial need for exchange in this ever challenging context. The expertise shared brought a real added value to the exercise of reconciling the imperatives of fighting terrorism, preventing violent radicalisation and respecting human rights and rule of law.
The event included presentations of the Council of Europe’s relevant framework, namely the work concerning international cooperation on criminal matters, the guidelines for prison and probation services regarding radicalisation and violent extremism, as well as the European Court of Human Rights' case-law related to prevention of terrorism.
This was followed by general discussions on risk assessment tools and models used. Several participants made presentations of the national approach in their countries (Belgium, France, Italy, Morocco, Spain, UK as well as brief mentions of the work carried out at national level in Austria, Netherlands, Sweden in the course of other sessions). The speakers covered several areas of intervention (judicial response, prison and probation context) and focused on challenges encountered, methods used and practices developed. More detailed interventions were made on risk assessment in the penitentiary and probation context respectively in two dedicated sessions.
The participants finally engaged in discussions to identify the core aspects and issues to be included in an ideal training curriculum for justice professionals on radicalisation prevention, in view of the future HELP online dedicated course. The five separate working groups brainstormed on the most important topics to be included in the specific modules of the course, namely the general module, the two specific modules for judges and prosecutors as well as for prison and probation staff and the module on collection and use of evidence in counter-terrorism cases (the latter funded under the European Union-Council of Europe Project “HELP in the EU”).
Videos from the Seminar:
Interview of Eva Pastrana, Head of HELP Unit, Council of Europe
Interview of Avril Calder, President, International Association of Family and Juvenile Judges
Interview with Ana Salinas de Frias, Professor, Law Faculty, University of Malaga, Spain