Algerian delegation visit Düsseldorf and the North Rhine-Westphalia region to learn about the prison system

The Algerian delegation during the meeting at the Ministry of Justice for the North Rhine-Westphalia region
The Algerian delegation during the meeting at the Ministry of Justice for the North Rhine-Westphalia region
Algeria

From 9 to 13 July 2018, the IRZ welcomed a delegation from the Algerian prison system on a visit to Düsseldorf. This study visit took place as part of a tandem project on the prison system organised jointly by the German Foreign Office and the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, which is running from 2017 to 2019.

The main focus of the visit was on the “Admission of prisoners” and “Individual enforcement plan and classification”. This continued the discussions in Germany that had begun during a workshop held in Algeria in May 2018 on the same subject.

As well as expert discussions at the Ministry of Justice for the North Rhine-Westphalia region, the programme also included a visit to three penal institutions (JVA Düsseldorf, JVA Gelsenkirchen and JVA Hagen).

During the meeting at the Ministry, the structure and organisation of the prison system in the NRW region was presented, including key figures and developments. At the penal institutions in Düsseldorf and Gelsenkirchen, the main focus was on “Access and admissions procedures”. Here, the entire procedure, from arrival at the penal institution to accommodation in prison cells, was presented and discussed. There was a particular focus on admission interviews and the administrative registration and evaluation of prisoner information. They also went into detail on the role of the department and professional services. At the prison in Hagen, the main focus was on the classification and admission of prisoners, which was explained during a tour of the institution. During the subsequent expert discussions, outstanding issues were discussed and the various ways of dealing with the enforcement plan of prisoners were presented.

The Algerian participants seemed extremely interested and asked a lot of questions. Since major reforms in the area of admissions and classification are planned in Algeria, the guests made the most of their stay in Germany to collect impressions and ideas for the upcoming restructuring.

The discussions on these subjects are set to continue in the autumn with a working session in Algiers.

Working group meeting on prison system reform in Algeria

Visit to the JVA for reintegration in Blida
Visit to the JVA for reintegration in Blida
Algeria

On 7 and 8 May 2018, the first working group meeting was held as part of the IRZ project to support the reforms of the Algerian prison system. The main focus was on the “Humane treatment of prisoners upon admission” and “Individual enforcement plan and classification”. From 2017 until 2019, the project is being supported by the German Federal Foreign Office and the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection.

To ensure that the project is led in a practice-oriented and needs-based way, the decision was made to establish four working groups. These will develop handbooks and recommendations for the Algerian prison system throughout the course of the project.

On the first day, the members of the working groups visited two penal institutions, where they were given an insight into the closed prisons for male and female prisoners and the medical department. On the second day, the focus was on working in small groups. On the subject of admission, the humane treatment of prisoners during the admission process was discussed in particular. This was mainly about the collection, administrative registration and evaluation of prisoner information and the role of medical and psychological staff in this context. On the subject of the classification of prisoners, the focus of conversation was on diagnosis and the related establishment of an enforcement plan.

The German experts supporting the working groups were Dr. Stefan Cassone and Ralf Teschner from the Law Enforcement department for North Rhine-Westphalia, and Kai Abraham and Dr. Steffen Bieneck from the Berlin Law Enforcement department.

Both the Algerian and the German participants took part in lively discussions and were extremely interested in more in-depth exchanges. The project will be continued with a study visit to Düsseldorf on the same subjects in July 2018.

First planning meeting held in Algiers for the reform of the Algerian prison system

The delegation from the Algerian prison authorities in discussions with German experts
The delegation from the Algerian prison authorities in discussions with German experts

On 8 April 2018, the first meeting of the reform commission for the Algerian prison system was held in Algiers. The commission was set up in December 2017 as part of the IRZ project for supporting the reform of the Algerian prison system . From 2017 until 2019, the project is being supported by the German Federal Foreign Office (AA) and the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV).

The objective of the meeting was to plan and develop the next steps for the project. The project is being led from the Algerian side by the Director of Prison Services, Mokhtar Felioune. The IRZ was represented at the meeting by Dr. Stefan Cassone and Andreas Illerhaus from the Ministry of Justice for the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany and Kai Abraham from the Berlin Senate for Justice, Consumer Protection and Anti-discrimination.

The main topics of conversation determined by the participants were the social reintegration of prisoners and the involvement of external actors in the social reintegration process. With this in mind, the project plans to set up four working groups, which will work on practical recommendations for the following areas:

  • The humane treatment of prisoners,
  • The establishment of individual enforcement plans and the classification of prisoners and
  • Cooperation with associations and actors from civil society.
The Algerians have also expressed a wish to include the continuous training of prison staff as an additional focal point.

The cooperation in working groups should guarantee that the project fulfils as many requirements as possible. It should allow the experts to address the actual requirements for reform in Algeria and develop target-oriented recommendations. At the end of the project, a handbook and recommendations for staff working in the Algerian prison system will be produced.

The Algerians expressed a keen interest in an exchange with the German prison system and appear to be taking the reforms that have already been introduced very seriously. The next event planned for this project is due to take place in Algiers in May 2018.