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On 28 November 2019, the IRZ, together with the German Federal Bar Association, the Algerian Bar Association and the Algerian Supreme Court (Cour Suprême), organised a conference on the “Appeal decisions of Supreme Courts” in Algiers. The IRZ experts taking part in the conference were Thomas Offenloch, a judge at the German Federal Court of Justice, and Otmar Kury, a lawyer specialising in criminal law.
The reopening and possible review of supreme court decisions is currently a subject of controversial debate in Algeria. The topicality of the subject was reflected in the high media presence at the event. In particular since the resignation of former President Bouteflika and ahead of the elections expected to be held in December, the Algerian Cour Suprême is facing considerable challenges and is under a huge amount of political pressure. The subject of the review of “unlawful verdicts” has a major role to play here. The conditions for the admissibility of appeal proceedings are formulated in very vague terms in the Algerian code of procedure. In addition, there are no reliable “filters” for submission to the court, which would allow only select cases to be handled by the Cour Suprême. The court is therefore significantly overloaded.
The following are some of the main topics discussed by the participants:
Appeal arrangements for court decisions at the Supreme Court in Algiers;
German appeal proceedings at the example of the German Federal Court of Justice, from the point of view of criminal and civil law: denial of leave to appeal, appeal proceedings, errors of fact or law;
German appeal proceedings from the lawyer’s perspective at the German Federal Court of Justice, the German Federal Labour Court, the German Federal Administrative Court, the Federal Social Court of Germany and the German Federal Fiscal Court, with particular consideration for criminal appeal proceedings.
The presentation of the appeal proceedings at the Supreme Court in Tunisia also included a regional comparison.
This event represented the first step in the partnership between the Supreme Court and the Bar Association in Algeria and took place within the framework of the institutional grant from the funds of the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection. The cooperation between the project partners is set to be intensified over the year to come, with the aim of making a contribution towards ensuring legal unity and the continued development of the law in Algeria.
The fourth and last working group meeting on Algerian prison reform was held from 15 to 17 October 2019 in Algiers. The IRZ organised this event as part of the two-year tandem project on prison reform in Algeria, which is being supported by the German Foreign Office and the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection until the end of 2019.
The four working groups each worked on one of the following subjects:
The human rights conform treatment of prisoners during admission
individual enforcement plans and classification
cooperation with external parties
training of prison staff
The cooperation in four themed working groups should guarantee that the project fulfils as many requirements as possible. During this last working meeting, the groups spent two days coming to an agreement on the final version of the results of their work. The handbooks produced by working groups 1 and 2 and the recommendations developed by working groups 3 and 4 will be presented at the end of this year when the project draws to a close.
On the third day of the meeting, the working groups visited the prison in Koléa (Tipasa) together. During this visit, the individual stages of the admission process as described in the handbook were presented as examples.
Representing the German side at the event on behalf of the IRZ were the following law enforcement experts from North Rhine-Westphalia and Berlin:
Kai Abraham, a policy officer in Department III at the Berlin Senate Administration for Justice, Consumer Protection and Anti-discrimination;
Alexander Gundlach, a prison inspector and lecturer at the training centre for Berlin Law Enforcement;
Andreas Illerhaus, Ministry of Justice for North Rhine-Westphalia, Department IV Law Enforcement, Section IV B 3 Organisation & Logistics Law Enforcement;
Mathias Nagel, a legal officer in Department III at the Berlin Senate for Justice, Consumer Protection and Anti-discrimination;
Dr. Stefan Cassone, Deputy Director of the Bochum penal institution;
Ralf Teschner, a prison inspector at the Essen penal institution.
The objectives of this final working group meeting were all achieved and participants on the Algerian and German sides praised the trusting and fruitful working relationship that has been in place over the past two years. The working groups will present their results at a closing conference to be held on 26 and 27 November 2019 in Algiers.Morocco
From 15 to 19 July 2019, the IRZ received a delegation of the Algerian prison system for expert discussions in Duesseldorf. The trip took place as part of a tandem project between the German Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection which the IRZ has been implementing since 2017 and is running until 2019.
The project targets are, amongst other targets:
Supporting the reform process in the Algerian prison system in line with international standards;
humanising the prison service in Algeria by implementing human rights principles and international standards in the prison system and
providing support in the reintegration and rehabilitation of prisoners by strengthening the role of civil society and other players involved in the reintegration process.
The last study trip within this project dealt with the topics “cooperation with external players“ and “basic and further training of prison staff”.
During the expert talks in the Ministry of Justice of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Algerian delegation learned about the structure and organisation of the prison system in NRW. They discussed the German experiences with their hosts, especially regarding the following prison system issues:
junior staff development;
main features of professional transition management in the prison system;
probationary service and
independent organisations providing assistance for ex-offenders.
During the practical part of the study trip, the Algerian participants visited the prison service school (JVS) in Wuppertal and the penal institution (JVA) in Remscheid. The focus of the meeting at the JVS was in particular on the school’s basic and further training schemes available for the prison staff. The visit at JVA Remscheid covered the cooperation with external players and the special features of open prisons in Germany. The Algerian guests also had the opportunity to visit the training premises of the prison service school and the workshops, occupational therapy offers, further training areas and sports facilities for prisoners of JVA Remscheid.
The Algerian participants took a very active part in all discussions, asked many questions and also addressed very openly the current problems of the prison system and the envisaged restructuring plans in Algeria.
A final meeting of the two working groups will take place in autumn, together with German experts. It is planned to issue a handbook for the Algerian prison system put together by the working groups as a result of the project.