Correctional center in Lipjan. | Photo:

Formerly radicalized teens denied access to education

An investigation reveals that a discrepancy between the Kosovo Correctional Service and the Ministry of Education is leaving teenagers who attempted to join terrorist organizations out of school.

With little money, two 16-year-old boys, one from Viti and the other from Gjilan, checked into Prishtina International Airport to board a flight to Turkey, hoping to join ISIS ranks in Syria. Fortunately, they were stopped by the border police.

The two teenagers were sentenced to one year of jail time in a correctional facility for minors, where they continued their high school education. A year later, as they are expected to be reintegrated into Kosovo society, however, neither of them can get a certificate to prove that they have finished a year of classes.

An investigation conducted by BIRN Kosovo’s television programme Justice In Kosovo reveals that because of a discrepancy between the Kosovo Correctional Service and the Ministry of Education, 30 youths are being denied their right to continue their education. This makes their resocialization more difficult, especially for those who have attempted to join terrorist organizations abroad.

The two institutions responsible for providing education and certification thereof in correctional facilities for minors disagree about who should issue the transcripts for the completion of one year of high school.

After being held for nine months in the Correctional Center of Lipjan and then released on parole, neither of the two were issued a certificate, which would allow them to go back to school.

Officials from the Correctional Center of Lipjan confirm that there is disagreement between the two institutions.

Heset Loku from the Kosovo Correctional Center said that education for convicted persons is an exclusive responsibility of the Ministry of Education, adding that he warned the ministry about the issue two years ago.

“Teenagers attend their classes, finish them, and in the end they don’t get the certificates. This is caused by the disagreement or the lack of clarity around the competences of the Ministry of Education and the Education Directorate in Lipjan,” said Loku.

The minors also failed to receive certificates for attending a vocational training program at the correctional center, since they were released before the program ended.

“The two teenagers who were acquitted had very good reports and never had disciplinary violations in the institution,” Loku said. He added that this issue needs to be treated carefully, especially as it relates to resocialization and the return to public life.

According to Kosovo Police, there are 26 Kosovar children currently in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. If they return, they may have to go through the same programmes as the two recently acquitted youths.

18/09/2017 - 14:48

18 September 2017 - 14:48

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