Published: 17 May 2016
1. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) partnered the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore in a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) to share best practices and enhance bilateral cooperation on counter terrorism. An initiative by the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore, this FGD was held on Monday, 16 May 2016. Experts and representatives from government agencies including MHA, the Singapore Police Force and National Security Coordination Secretariat, as well as academics from Singapore and Indonesia attended this FGD.
2. During the FGD, various topics like the current and emerging threats of terrorism, and strategies to prevent and respond effectively to such threats were discussed. The FGD attendees concluded that transnational cooperation is critical in the fight against the terrorist threat. The strong and on-going bilateral cooperation between Singapore and Indonesia on counter terrorism measures is a good way for countries to narrow the space that terrorists could use to operate within our region.
3. The FGD attendees also discussed at length, best practices in terrorist rehabilitation. While preventing radicalisation and terrorist attacks is important, rehabilitation of terrorists is equally critical. The FGD discussed the best practices of enacting effective legislation to facilitate a swift and effective response to potential terrorist threats, and the management of terrorists in prisons. For example, those convicted of terrorist-related offences should be separated from other prison inmates, so as to prevent contamination and radicalisation of inmates who were convicted of non-terrorism crimes. Rehabilitation programmes need to be comprehensive and sustainable so that the social, psychological and spiritual well-being aspects of prisoners are also taken care of. The FGD attendees agreed that rehabilitation cannot be regarded as the end-stage. Rigorous post-release programmes are also needed to ensure that rehabilitated terrorists who are ready for release back into mainstream society, do not end up re-joining their former terrorist networks.
4. The FGD attendees further discussed the need for continuous research to complement existing terrorist rehabilitation programmes. Periodic reviews of religious narratives and counselling are also needed to ensure that materials are up-to-date and take in new developments.
5. The FGD attendees further agreed that the community must join in the effort to rehabilitate terrorists. There needs to be enhanced capacity building of stakeholders in the work of countering violent extremism. Community partnerships and outreach efforts need to be enhanced so as to foster an environment that does not sanction the spread of violent ideology in society.
6. The FGD is a useful starting point for regional collaboration with other partners including Malaysia and Brunei for the development of a regional blueprint to deal with countering violent extremism.