June 10, 2024

SADC holds Annual Regional Conference of Heads of Corrections/Prisons/Penitentiary Services in Livingstone, Zambia

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) convened the Heads of Corrections/Prisons/Penitentiary Services in Livingstone, Zambia, from 05-07 June 2024. The regional conference was held under the theme “Deradicalisation to Violent Extremism and Terrorism”.

The Mayor of the city of Livingstone, Her Worship Constance Muleabai attended the opening session and welcomed all the Heads of Corrections/Prions/Penitentiary service from SADC Member States to the tourist capital of the Republic of Zambia. 

The Conference, which was attended by 15 Member States, was officially opened by the representative of the Chairperson of SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, Honourable Credo Nanjuwa, Minister for the Southern Province of the Republic of Zambia. The Minister highlighted that the Conference comes at a critical time for the continent when terrorism and violent extremism are a serious threat to peace and democracy.  He noted that deradicalisation is complex and requires concerted efforts from all sectors, including from prisons/correctional services, and that convening with a shared mission of countering radicalisation to violent extremism reinforces understanding as well as strengthens preventative and response strategies. 

In his remarks, the Director of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, Prof. Kula Theletsane highlighted that the security landscape of the region is changing, and terrorism and violent extremism are among emerging security threats. He stated that research has shown that Prisons/Correctional facilities are potential incubators for radical ideas and should be part of the drivers of response strategies.  He emphasised that the call to action against radicalisation is urgent and deserves necessary attention by all stakeholders.

The Conference also offered the participants an opportunity to share progress on the implementation of the SADC Corrections/Prisons Strategic Action Plan 2021-2025.  

Key recommendations from the Conference centred on the need for capacity building and skills building, as well as experience sharing for prison staff on radicalisation, violent extremism and terrorism; strengthening reporting, monitoring and evaluation; designing programmes to respond to mental challenges for both Prisoners and Prison staff.