Judicial Strategy Against all Forms of Violent Extremism in Prison: Harmonised Guidelines for Judges

What our administration wanted to publish, with the contribution of many partners, is a small handbook for European legal practitioners (staff magistrates, prosecutors, lawyers, experts), instructions, a hope…, especially the latter, the hope that this contribution, supported by the European Commission and which has seen many persons and institutions working together, committed to the prevention and fight against the phenomenon of terrorism, would also facilitate the formation of a stronger and more participatory consciousness of the different communities that make up the EU, acknowledging that everyone has the same destiny, acknowledging that everyone has a legitimate claim for peace and well-being.

Today more than in the past, we aim to go against those lines of thought that are often confused, mixed with claims and approximations, truncated with rage and fake news, addressed in the pursuit of other interests, where personalistic logic prevails.

Such ideological aberrations, if not stopped with common sense, with the discovery of real intentions and strategies, of firm talk and the legitimate claim to have clear and documented answers, can plunge Europe and its culture of law and rights into a risk of unpredictable and destructive consequences.

In fact, the danger is present where European citizens are induced not to recognise themselves in the same destiny as communities, dangerously turning back the clock to a time that does not want to pass and of which the memory from only a few decades ago is still overshadowed by military conflicts and economic and trade wars.

Short memories and long suffering still seem to be the train tracks today on which one should not get on, a journey that must be avoided, because others can and must be the scenarios of modern Europe and the rights of today and tomorrow.

The universal good of security is one of its essential goals, a universal security which must be strengthened by the real achievement of security for the citizens of Europe, who must demand the same for other peoples.

I will not dwell on the subject of security in its military sense, although the nexus between wars and criminality cannot be denied as something that is usually established and grows progressively, like the metastases of a deadly cancer. 

My most immediate concern, on the other hand, is with security issues in the area of crime; with organised crime, which would have no reason not to offer hospitality and support, in exchange for a benefit, even to violent terrorist and religious crimes.

The Criminalities that we have to face do not have borders, they have no time zones, they have no territorial solutions, on the contrary, if anything their ability is great in terms of reconverting and knowing how to change organisational structures, looking for new sources of inspiration and profit.

The work done and summarised in this booklet, carried out thanks to the invaluable commitment of the institutional partners and NGOs represented, tries to outline shared strategies, to encourage the sharing of experiences, to combine science and sensitivity because the issue of security must be addressed in global terms.

Critical security issues inevitably always affect human and citizenship rights, as they can represent a limit if not a trap. However, on the contrary, if shared working methods are set, they can also constitute an opportunity for the growth of conscience and social peace.

The handbook, then, underscores and also pursues another goal; it has the pretension of meaning something else, it wants to be a warning and an exhortation at the same time: distrusted by anyone who disputes the benefit and the unconditional need for the EU States to work together, to create and build relations, rapports, synergies in common, because it is precisely separation, the monocular vision of each single State, lander, region, district, city and village, that constitutes the greatest support that can be given to organised crime and terrorism.

Paradoxically, those who want to go back to the old times, to borders and milestones, to strict divisions of languages and territories, to their own exclusive legal systems in terms of criminal law and punishment, are only building golden bridges, preferential lanes, promising places, towards all organised crime and, precisely for this reason, are more and more tempted to project themselves into a supranational field.

In short, one can actually, and in the liquid and online era that States and communities are required to live in today, be involuntary associates, unwitting supporters, accomplices “by chance”, of the worst criminality, including terrorism and religiously inspired crimes.

Not understanding this trivial truth can make the difference between the collective good and evil for all: in everyone’s life, it is little consolation if you were hit by another driver at 125 mph per hour that the person responsible for it does it by determined will, well aware of hitting us, or by distraction and/or inability to drive; the terrible and devastating effects would be the same.

Therefore, let us continue to devise shared strategies and let us start thinking about how prison sentences for supranational crimes should also be executed in European prisons, repairing what would otherwise be an incomprehensible contradiction.

Today, more than in the past, the conspicuous part of criminal malfeasance is of a supranational nature (terrorism, trafficking of arms, drugs, human beings, works of art, drugs, hydrocarbons, etc.) and the connection of political and religious terrorism with organised crime is not infrequent, so much so that it feels inadvertent, if not specific complicity, when the States show indifference and/or hostility in matters of judicial and police cooperation, as well as in the penitentiary sphere.

Together, however, Europe can.


Enrico Sbriglia – General Manager of the Italian Penitentiary Administration – Administrator of Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Trentino Alto Adige

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