Statement delivered by Ambassador Stefano Stefanile, Deputy Permanent Representative and Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of Italy to the United Nations, at the Security Council meeting in Arria-formula on “Challenges of radicalisation in prisons” —
Thank you, Mr. Chair,
We would like to contribute to this debate by bringing our own experience in dealing with the risk of terrorist radicalization in prisons and with the object to design prison systems that prioritize rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
Italy has been active in developing common standards and methodologies, contributing to the Council of Europe Handbook for prison and probation services regarding radicalization and violent extremism.
We support the guidelines emerging from United Nations Security Council resolution 2396 of 2017 and the updated Madrid Guiding Principles. The Italian correctional system is currently engaged in developing specific programs based on multiple sources of information and cooperation with different agencies.
We are also committed to making all measures compliant with the human rights and dignity of detainees, in accordance with the Nelson Mandela Rules endorsed by the UN General Assembly.
The Italian methodology is based on the level of risk posed by each detainee.
High-risk detainees include persons who have been convicted of terrorist crimes, expressed clear extremist ideology, or conducted recruitment activities. These detainees are placed in the “maximum security circuit” to prevent them from sharing their violent ideology with others.
Medium-risk detainees, instead, are placed under observation and monitoring.
Prison officials consider a range of specific “indicators” to detect early processes of radicalization, which may differ from person to person. Some of the following factors can be important indicators:
– Personal background including criminal record;
– Rejection of all public authority, refusal to share space and time with detainees who do not belong to the same group or religion, the use of terrorist symbols or acts of jubilation when terrorist attacks or similar events occur;
– Significant behavioral changes, such as self-isolation, drastic diets or visible change in appearance.
As far as treatment is concerned, the “Observation and Treatment Group” considers the detainees on a case-by-case basis, designing and adopting an individualized response for each of them. In brief:
– For potential recruiters transfers may be made to prison wards or facility which reduces the risk of proselytism;
– Investments in education, work projects, and/or sport initiatives are generally pursued and proven to be very productive;
– Contacts with families and outside religious leaders are also facilitated when appropriate.
Training activities are crucial to implementing this methodology. The Italian Correctional System has designed training courses and curricula for all the relevant prison officials to address the new forms of “radical thought,” with special attention to cultural and religious background.
The Italian methodology grew out of programs originally designed for detainees convicted of mafia crimes. Over the years, it has been refined at the legal and operational levels, and proven to be a useful tool also for addressing the new threats of “radical” and potentially radicalized detainees. Our experts and professionals have actively participated and are still engaged in international missions and projects, providing their own expertise and contributing to efforts to support the fight against radicalization and violence in correctional environments.
We remain committed to improving our action at the domestic level and to cooperating with all Member States and the relevant international partners.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.