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On 19 February 2019, the second meeting of the Reform Commission for the Algerian prison system took place in Algiers. The IRZ organised the event as part of a tandem project which is supported by the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection running from 2017 to 2019.
The Reform Commission was established in December 2017 and aims to ensure the implementation of the project and to provide support in developing strategies for reforming the Algerian prison system. The goal of this year’s meeting was to draw a conclusion of last year’s project progress and to plan the activities for the final project year of 2019.
The project work will focus on four working groups dealing with different subjects of law enforcement in Algeria. They will work on the development of a handbook for the Algerian prison system. To conclude the project, a conference is planned in Algiers at the end of 2019 to present the project results.
Representing the German side, the event was attended by experts of the prison service for North Rhine-Westphalia and Berlin:
Kai Abraham, representing Department III of 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 – Section IV A 3 – Penal Institutions for Young Offenders and Women and Social Service, and
Andreas Illerhaus, Ministry of Justice for North Rhine-Westphalia, Department IV Law Enforcement, Section IV B 3 Organisation & Logistics Law Enforcement.
The meeting started with a welcome address by Mokhtar Felioune, Director of the prison authority, and Mohamed Montasser Abidi, Head of Section for North Africa and the Middle East of the IRZ. Both sides pointed out that the cooperation is considered as very positive and successful.
In the further course of the meeting, the Algerian and German working group members discussed the next steps for developing the handbook / the recommendations for the prison system in all four working groups. They also exchanged their views regarding the potentials and subjects for a potential cooperation beyond the project close. The working atmosphere in this meeting, like in previous meetings, was very constructive and productive.
On 19 November 2018, a second working group meeting was held in Algiers on the subjects “Cooperation with external parties in prisons” and “Training prison staff”. The event was held as part of the IRZ project to support the reform of the Algerian prison system, which is being carried out between 2017 and 2019 using funds from the German Federal Foreign Office.
Representing the German side at the event were law enforcement experts from Berlin and North Rhine-Westphalia:
Rudolf Baum, Head of the Social Services Department, North Rhine-Westphalia Law Enforcement;
Andreas Illerhaus, Ministry of Justice for North Rhine-Westphalia, Department IV Law Enforcement, Section IV B 3 Organisation & Logistics Law Enforcement;
Kai Abraham, an advisor in Department III at the Berlin Senate for Justice, Consumer Protection and Anti-Discrimination;
Alexander Gundlach, a prison inspector and lecturer at the training centre for Berlin Law Enforcement.
The aim of the working groups is to develop handbooks and recommendations for the reform of the Algerian prison system throughout the course of the project. On the subject of cooperation with external parties, the focus was mainly on work with non-governmental organisations concerning the reintegration of prisoners. Although there are many civil society associations in Algeria, they are extremely poorly organised and do not have sufficient knowledge of the specific features and problem areas concerning law enforcement. The German speakers therefore introduced the system of prison advisory committees as an opportunity to open up the system and involve various external parties in prisons. In Algeria, it is now a question of raising more awareness in civil society for the prison system and gaining them as long-term, reliable partners to work alongside.
When it came to the subject of “Training prison staff”, the focus at this meeting was on further education. The German experts presented the training opportunities available in Berlin and NRW. These include compulsory training sessions on security issues such as weapons and self-defence, as well as courses on personnel management, communication and behaviour, business and management and various health topics.
The Algerian and German participants took part in lively discussions and were extremely interested in a more in-depth exchange. The discussions on these subjects will continue at a further meeting in 2019.
On 25 and 26 September 2018, a working group meeting was held in Algiers on the subjects “Cooperation with external parties in prisons” and “Training prison staff”. The event was held as part of the IRZ project to support the reform of the Algerian prison system, which is being carried out between 2017 and 2019 using funds from the German Federal Foreign Office.
Representing the German side at the event were the following experts:
Andreas Illerhaus and Rudolf Baum, North Rhine-Westphalia Law Enforcement, and
Kai Abraham and Alexander Gundlach, Berlin Law Enforcement.
During the workshop, the experts were given the opportunity to visit the El-Harrach prison in Algiers and the training facilities for Algerian law enforcement. The El-Harrach prison is the largest penal institution in Algeria and the only one in the urban district of Algiers.
The focus of the visit was on support and training options for prisoners. The involvement of external parties plays a crucial role here. And so the Algerian prison system has developed comprehensive partnership programmes with various ministries, including the Ministries of Education, Health and Employment. This has allowed reintegration measures to be built up significantly.
The position is somewhat more difficult with regard to the involvement of civil society in the prison system. Further efforts are required here when it comes to raising awareness amongst non-governmental organisations of the specific features and problem areas concerning law enforcement.
The subject “Further training of prison staff” was brought to light by a visit to the prison service school. The school was praised by the German experts, who found it to be extremely modern and complying with international standards. The Algerians were particularly interested in the selection of prison service staff, as well as the development of training courses.
There were intense and open discussions between the German and Algerian representatives. The Algerian partners were very interested in learning about the German system and getting ideas for their own reform process. The subject will be looked at in more detail at a second meeting due to take place this year.