Less than ten months after the opening of the Centre in Montreal preventing radicalization leading to violence (CPRMV), possibly the first of its kind in North America, the Director Herman Deparice Okomba consider a parole system for matching inmates a certain profile.
If the threat of radicalization in Canadian prisons does not matter for now, Mr. Okomba believes it could become.
“I do not think we have a detention-related problem on radicalization in Quebec and Canada,” he assured The Canadian Press.
“But at the same time, we must be proactive. We must be at the forefront. More strategies are put in place to prevent radicalization, we are better placed to detect the problem. ”
There are many examples around the world, terrorists radicalized in prison. The authorities also believe that the alleged mastermind of the attacks of Paris was influenced by Islamic fundamentalists during his time behind bars in Belgium.
Mr. Okomba is in discussion with corrections officials and the Quebec and Canadian justice, to create a parole system that would supervise former prisoners radicalized or vulnerable to extremism. The same kind of system exists for pedophiles and other criminals considered potentially dangerous.
“We want to ensure that when a person with the profile of a radical leaves prison, he must respect (…) a support center as a release condition,” he said.
The CPRMV, whose official inauguration will take place on Sunday, was created at the initiative of the Mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre. It has 12 employees, including researchers, psychologists and other experts trained to detect signs of extremism and working with the people targeted.
According Wadgy Loza, a psychiatry professor at Queens University, Ontario, does not believe that radicalization in prisons is a major problem.
“But it could become one,” he added, as Mr. Okomba.
Mr. Loza is also founder of Extremism and Terrorism Section of the Canadian Psychological Association, and has served as Kingston Penitentiary Chief psychologist 1999-2009.
To establish an effective parole system for radicals, he said, the program would have to include many facets and is led by highly competent people who know how to get into the spirit of detainees.
“It would take a team of experts who understand the language, culture, values inmates and which focuses on ideology, he said. We must demonstrate the benefits of change. We must refute some religious arguments. ”
While the parole program is still at the discussion stage, the CPRMV, he is already attracting the attention of Canada and outside.
Herman Deparice Okomba received a delegation of the French department of corrections, a few days after the attacks in Paris. He says many people receive calls from all over the world interested in the project.
One who has worked for 10 years with the Montreal Police Service, as a specialist in intercultural relations, ensures that the center does not aim specifically Muslims.
“We have a holistic approach of radicalization. So treated as the extreme left, right, whatever is extreme radicalization any force. It’s a choice we made to avoid stigmatizing the Muslim population. ”
He admits that most 370 calls to call center open round the clock since March concerned the Islamic fundamentalism.
Of these cases, 90 required follow-up, and six were referred to the police. Mr. Okomba nevertheless stresses that CPRMV is not a police body. It is fully independent and funded by Montreal and Quebec City, but it has a mandate to contact the authorities if a reported person poses a threat to himself or the community.
The director will likely gather the concerns of some towards the imminent arrival of thousands of Syrian refugees in Quebec.
“I have no fear at all, he has said. I have confidence in this system. And I am confident in our ability to deal with these people. ”
He did not give details on the type of intervention that his team had to perform since March, but his approach is clear.
“To be radical, that is not bad. Rather, it’s a good thing we saw Mandela, Martin Luther King, Gandhi. These are people who were radicals. But that’s the word violence is problematic. We will tackle violent radicalization. ”