Study trip of an Algerian delegation to North Rhine-Westphalia covering prison system issues

The Algerian delegation during the visit of the prison service school in Wuppertal
The Algerian delegation during the visit of the prison service school in Wuppertal
Algeria

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:

  • Social work;
  • staff recruitment;
  • 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.

Working group meeting on prison matters in Algiers

Working group meeting on prison matters in Algiers
Working group meeting on prison matters in Algiers
Algeria

On 12 and 13 June 2019, the third working group meeting was held in Algiers on the subjects “Cooperation with external parties” and “Training prison staff”. The IRZ organised the event as part of a tandem project, which is being supported by the German Foreign Office and the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and is running for two years until the end of 2019.

The cooperation in four themed working groups should guarantee that the project fulfils as many requirements as possible. The focus of this meeting was on continuing to work on recommended actions for the Algerian prison system. These recommendations for action are the planned outcome for this project.

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, representing 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 and
  • Daniela Mlynek, Head of Employment and Qualification at the JVA Heidering prison in Berlin.

In the working group on “Cooperation with external parties”, this third meeting focussed primarily on cooperation with companies. The Algerian prison authorities are interested in expanding their partnerships with external companies. On the one hand, this should create additional jobs for prisoners during their prison sentences. It can also be important for the prisoners’ job opportunities after leaving prison and help with their reintegration. The members of the working group also talked about the security issues involved in working with representatives from civil society, e.g. the instruction and monitoring of external parties.

In the working group on “Training prison staff”, the experts from North Rhine-Westphalia and Berlin started by presenting the detailed contents of the curriculum for German prisons in the areas of enforcement duties, the development of delinquency, treatment, education and support, as well as communications and conflict management. The Algerian participants were particularly interested in learning about communications and conflict management and there were discussions as to whether this dimension should be developed still further in the Algerian prison curriculum.

Overall, the participants said that the working atmosphere was remarkably good and trusting. They also said that the meeting was very productive in terms of the development of recommendations. Both working groups will meet up once again this year in Algiers. A conference is planned for November 2019 in Algiers to conclude the project.

Working group meeting on prison matters in Algiers

Working group meeting on prison matters in Algiers
Working group meeting on prison matters in Algiers
Algeria

On 3 and 4 April 2019, the third working group meeting was held in Algiers to discuss “The humane treatment of prisoners during admission” and “Individual enforcement plans and classification”. The IRZ organised the event as part of a tandem project, which is being supported by the German Foreign Office and the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and is running from 2017 to 2019.

The cooperation in four themed working groups should guarantee that the project fulfils as many requirements as possible. The focus of the meeting was on continuing to work on a handbook and recommendations for the Algerian prison system, which are the planned final product for the project.

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, representing Department III at the Berlin Senate Administration for Justice, Consumer Protection and Anti-discrimination;
  • Mathias Nagel, representing Department III at the Berlin Senate Administration for Justice, Consumer Protection and Anti-discrimination;
  • Dr. Stefan Cassone, Ministry of Justice for North Rhine-Westphalia, Department IV Law Enforcement, and
  • Ralf Teschner, a prison inspector at the Essen penal institution.

During the working group on “The humane treatment of prisoners during admission”, the participants discussed the medical examination by a doctor during the prisoner admission process, amongst other subjects. The experts from North Rhine-Westphalia had drawn up a check list for the examination, which they adapted to the situation and requirements of the Algerian prison system with the Algerian members of the working group. As well as other chapters on various steps to be taken during the admission process, this check list will become part of the handbook.

In the second working group, participants worked on the chapters on the enforcement plan and classification for the handbook. The two experts from the Berlin Senate Administration had prepared two sample forms for an individual enforcement plan and for updating or checking this plan, which they discussed with their Algerian partners.

Overall, the participants found the meeting to be a success, not least with regard to the development of the handbook and recommendations. Both working groups will meet up once again this year in Algiers to finish working on the final products. Two more meetings are also planned this year for the two other working groups for the project, which are concerned with cooperation with external parties and further training of prison staff. A conference is planned for November 2019 in Algiers to conclude the project.