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Counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation

19-05-2016

How to answer training needs of justice practitioners?

Conference on 19 and 20 May in Brussels

Directorate-General Justice and Consumers organised a conference on 19 and 20 May in Brussels in cooperation with the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN).

This event was primarily targeted at providers of training for judges, prosecutors, prison and probation staff.

Firstly, it took stock of recent experience of cross-border training cooperation in this area. Secondly, it allowed for an exchange on training needs between training providers and EU level networks of justice practitioners and institutions touched by the prevention, prosecution of terrorism and violent extremism as well as the treatment of offenders. Thirdly, it generated ideas for the design of training activities covering these needs and illustrate what EU support is available.

More information on the conference

Judges, prosecutors, prison and probation staff are the main professionals of the justice area concerned with the judicial response to terrorism and radicalisation to violent extremism. They have partially overlapping training needs, such as the correct understanding and detection of radicalisation and acting with intercultural competence.

This was the first European Commission conference aimed at an exchange of experiences among providers of training for prison and probation staff. This event was timely in that it took into consideration the Council of Europe´s Guidelines for prison and probation services regarding radicalisation and violent extremism pdffrom March 2016 when discussing consequences for training.

At the same time, this event was a follow-up to the pilot series of training activities for judges and prosecutors on countering terrorism and radicalisation, implemented by the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN) – co-organiser of this event - in 2015/16. The current event went beyond EJTN´s pilot project by also tackling the training needs of non-criminal judges, necessitated by their power to impose preventive measures, for instance, in the area of administrative law (such as travel restrictions) or family law (such as dealing with radicalised minors).

This conference also offered training providers the possibility to discuss the training needs of their target audience with EU level networks representing legal professionals, courts, prosecution offices, prison and probation services, all of which have to respond to terrorism and radicalisation in their daily work.

Structure of the conference

The prelude was a get-together dinner on the evening before the conference. Participants found "thematic tables" on a range of topics related to the overall conference theme which facilitated their meeting participants from other Member States with similar interests, and across the different justice professions.

In plenary sessions, the scene was set by outlining the contribution of judicial training to the justice sector’s response to terrorism and violent extremism, the up-coming EU legislation that may create additional training needs, recent experiences with training activities in this area, up-coming cross-border related training projects, and the available EU financial support for further training projects.

A large part of the conference took place in working groups, dealing with the training of criminal law judges/prosecutors, of non-criminal law judges, and of prison and probation staff. Each working group started with a presentation of existing cross-border cooperation initiatives for the training of the targeted practitioners, followed by a discussion with justice practitioners (representing EU level networks or institutions) on the training needs of the respective group in the field of countering terrorism and violent extremism. In small groups of 5-7 persons, participants discussed the design of training activities in areas such as the sentencing of convicted terrorists and violent extremists, or the prevention of the spread of violent extremism. The aim of these small discussion-groups was for participants to exchange information about existing training activities and to collect ideas about goals, topics and methodology for additional training initiatives. The results of the different discussion-groups were shared with the other participants so that each training provider could take home "hands-on" ideas to develop its curriculum further.

Interpretation was provided to and from English, French, German, Italian, Polish and Spanish. However, the small discussion groups of 5-7 persons took place in English.