The disengagement, rehabilitation and reintegration (DRR) of terrorists is being prioritised, as growing numbers of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) return from the battlefield in the Middle East. This area of work is all the more important because detainees incarcerated or convicted of terrorism will eventually be released, and the potential for recidivism poses an imminent security threat. The extent to which the voices of victims of terrorism can play a role in the process of DRR is a question that naturally arises in this context.
The potential risk for victims’ instrumentalisation for this policy objective – as opposed to their rehumanisation – is real. But that is not the only risk for victims: other potential setbacks include re-emergence of traumas, failure to get a grip on the mindset of the terrorist, disapprobation from their communities, and inadequate cooperation from prison staff and lawyers.
This guideline reflects the discussion on this subject from the 29 September 2020 online event organised by the RAN Victims of Terrorism (VoT) Working Group. Participants concluded that preparation for such conversations is a key component for success; long-lasting investment in trauma healing is also needed, as is the establishment of an organisation of and for victims representing the interests of this group. In other words, the victim–offender conversation is not a one-off event but must form part of a larger initiative and overall support structure. Likewise, it is equally important to adopt a structured approach to DRR from the prison’s perspective. Read more