UNODC and Japan partner with Kyrgyzstan’s Prison Service to prevent violent extremism
- In Kyrgyzstan, over 400 people are currently serving custodial and non-custodial sentences for terrorist and extremist crimes. Since 2010 this figure has gone up over five fold.
With funding provided by the Government of Japan, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has been working with Kyrgyzstan’s Prison Service to enhance prison security, promote social rehabilitation of offenders and prevent violent extremist ideas from spreading in prisons.
During the past year, UNODC has completed refurbishment works and procured furniture and equipment with a total value of over 120,000 USD for 6 correctional facilities to improve conditions of detention and develop the knowledge and skills of prison staff to manage violent extremist offenders.
The Prison Service recently showcased the results of these interventions at prison No. 47 in Bishkek where facilities for prisoners to call their loved ones and offices for psychologists and social workers have been upgraded, combined with the creation of a library and work space for prisoners to engage in vocational training and income generating activities.
"The interventions we are piloting in partnership with UNODC allow us to work more effectively with prisoners to promote their social reintegration and prevent recruitment into the ranks of violent extremist groups”, said Zhorobek Duishenbiev, Deputy Chairman of the Prison Service. “We are at the beginning of a long-term effort. Much remains to be done."
"Our joint project is producing concete results. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to UNODC and responsible State institutions for their cooperation to prevent radicalization to violence in prisons. We intend to continue supporting such partnerships in the future", said Yoshikawa Daisuke, First Secretary at the Embassy of Japan.
To improve the Prison Service’s outdated filing system, UNODC has been supporting the Prison Service to move from a paper-based to an electronic format for the registration of documents and other items in 6 pilot prisons. Computers, printers and passport scanners were purchased and instructions for the introduction of new software for electronic registration of visits, packages and parcels developed. Staff of pilot prisons received special training enabling them to start using the software.
"Prison staff are at the core of any prison system. Prison administrations should devote sufficient time and resources to attract and train qualified professionals, including psychologists, social workers and operational staff. This is all the more important to ensure effective prevention of extremist activity in prisons", said Vera Tkachenko, Acting Head of the UNODC Programme Office in Kyrgyzstan.
The Japanese-funded project paid considerable attention to meaures enhancing prison security. Cell blocks holding violent extremist prisoners were equipped with video surveillance, portable radios and secure doors. Office furniture was provided and air-conditioning installed for prison staff. Sports equipment was procured for the prisoners. Workshops were created to engage prisoners in the manufacturing of leather and felt products.
In 2017, the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic adopted a new State Programme to Counter Extremism and Terrorism covering the period from 2017 to 2022. This Programme foresees research on the conditions that are conducive to radicalization leading to violence and implementation of measures to prevent recruitment by violent extremist groups. UNODC assists the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic in the implementation of this strategic document within the framework of the UNODC Programme for Central Asia.