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Judicial practitioners take in-depth look at backgrounds of terrorist convicts at EU conference


The fight against terrorism can benefit from gaining more insight into the broader background of terrorist convicts. Knowledge of their main motivations and psychosocial factors are of crucial importance in the prevention of terrorism and to prepare the return of ex-convicts to civil society. It can help as well for judicial practitioners to make their assessments for risk interventions and of ongoing cases and be beneficial to staff in prison and probation service.

Extensive studies have been carried out during the past years, using personal, psychosocial and contextual information, as well as background judicial data, on terrorists and their acts. The results of these studies have been brought together under the umbrella of the Database and Assessment of Risks of violent Extremists (DARE) Project, leading to a European Database of convicted terrorists (EDT). The results of the DARE Project were discussed today at the DARE and EU Counter-Terrorism Developments conference hosted by Eurojust in The Hague.

Photo © Eurojust

The objective of the DARE Project, which has been financed for the past two years by the European Commission, is to analyse judicial information and help improve the scientific basis of risk assessment instruments. More than 800 cases will be analysed in five participating countries (Germany, Austria, Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands), while observing strict confidentiality, with participation of the Bielefeld University in Germany, the Belgian Federal Judiciary Government Service and the Netherlands Institute of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology (NIFP). The NIFP will continue to lead the DARE research and the EDT, with financial support from the Dutch Ministry for Justice and Security, together with other partners and future participating countries. This oversight will lead to more objective data about terrorists and their acts.

Information and experience gained from the DARE Project has been used to train hundreds of professionals working in the probation and prison services in risk assessment and management of violent extremism. This training helps to assist judicial practitioners in working in a more evidence-based manner.

Eurojust launched the European Judicial Counter-Terrorism Register last month. This register will enable public prosecutors to quickly exchange essential information on terrorist suspects and persons convicted of terrorism. This information will help prosecutors to strengthen and speed up investigations.