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IRZ has held its second summer school on European Union law (EU law) and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in Arzakan, Armenia from 14 to 18 July 2014 in cooperation with the Armenian Young Lawyers Association (AYLA).
The participants included young lawyers and law students. AYLA and IRZ conducted a selection process in advance of the event to find the most suitable candidates. Just like last year, there was a very large number of applicants flocking to apply. A total of 30 people attended the summer camp.
As opposed to last year, this year's focus was on the ECHR and filing complaints with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). There was also an introduction to EU law on both of the first days. In addition to presenting the institutional structure of the European Union (EU) and an overview of the evolution of EU law, there was also a lecture on Armenia's cooperation with the EU held by an AYLA employee at the start of the event. Professor Dr. Carmen Thiele from Viadrina European University Frankfurt (Oder) also presented on the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Unions and pointed out the differences between it and the ECHR. The participants then worked on these topics in working groups. The next three days were dedicated to the ECHR, focusing on Article 5 (Liberty and Security), 6 (Fair Trial) and 10 (Freedom of Expression) and the procedure for filing a complaint with the ECtHR. Dr. Michael-Kleine Cosack, a lawyer from Freiburg, and Professor Dr. Michaela Wittinger from the Mannheim University of Applied Sciences started off by presenting on the articles. In the afternoon, the participants looked in working groups into real-life ECtHR cases selected by the speakers and concerning the individual articles and then presented on them.
The participants had lively discussions about the cases and the various points of views and assessments during the individual working groups and the presentation of the results. The experts were always available for questions and were very impressed with the motivation of the participants and the open discussion atmosphere.
The opening of the conference. From right to left: Vice-Minister of Justice A. Mkrtchyan, the President of the Armenian Court of Cassation A.Mkrtumyan, the Chairman of the Armenian Association of Judges H.Sargsyan and the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Armenia, R. Morell
This year's meeting of the "Memorandum Group of the Associations of Judges" took place in Yerevan, Armenia, from 29 June to 1 July 2014. It was the fourth conference of the Memorandum Group, a federation of associations of judges from different countries for multilateral cooperation, which has been supported by the IRZ since its foundation in 2010. The theme of this year's conference was the independence of the judiciary. The representatives of the associations of judges came to the conference in Armenia from Armenia, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine. The Senior Public Prosecutor Dr Peter Schneiderhan, Member of the Executive Committee of the German Association of Judges, as well as Dr Helmut Palder, former Leitender Ministerialrat in the State Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection of Bavaria and Member of the German Association of Judges, participated in the conference from the German side. Their contributions on the special situation of the independence of the judiciary in Germany as well as on the importance of a sound training of judges in terms of an independent judiciary were well received. Controversial debates evolved in the context of the contributions from Armenia and the Republic of Moldova. An open and lively discussion was also triggered by the questions raised by the Vice-President of the International Association of Judges, Dr Virgilius Valancius.
The conference was opened by the Chairman of the Armenian Association of Judges, Mr Hrachik Sargsyan, as well as by the President of the Armenian Court of Cassation, Mr Arman Mkrtumyan. Welcome addresses were also given by the Armenian Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr Arsen Mkrtchyan, and the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Armenia, Mr Reiner Morell.
The Memorandum Group also met on the sidelines of the conference to discuss the further development and the future orientation of the Group. It agreed, among other things, to hold the next conference in the Republic of Moldova in 2015.
The delegation during their visit to the Ministry of Justice of Baden-Wuerttemberg. Back row from left: Public Prosecutor Dr A. Kees, Judge at the Regional Court Mr S. Ganninger; front row third from left: Dr M. Meßling, Judge at the Regional Social Court
A delegation of the Criminal Division of the Court of Cassation of the Republic of Armenia discussed the issues of sentencing and the assessment of judicial activities at meetings of experts held in Stuttgart and Karlsruhe from 12 to 16 May 2014. The visit to the two institutions, with which the IRZ has been cooperating since it started to work with Armenia in 2011, was already agreed last year in Armenia. The two institutions work independently in practice, but are linked to each other insofar as the Court Department acts as the administrative body of the judiciary, which means it is in charge of employing staff at the Court of Cassation, Armenia's Supreme Court.
The delegation was first received on 13 May by the President of the Higher Regional Court, Dr Franz Steinle, and learned more about sentencing in Germany and the competence of higher courts to review sentencing by courts of first instance. Another topic concerned the distribution of functions among German courts. An overview of the German probation service system was provided during subsequent talks at the Ministry of Justice of Baden-Württemberg, among other things at the request of the Court of Cassation, which was particularly interesting against the background of the current introduction of a probation service in Armenia.
The delegation was able to shadow a criminal trial at the Second Criminal Division of the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe, thus gaining an impression of a trial in Germany. The following expert talks were held with, among others, the Vice-President of the Federal Court of Justice, Mr Wolfgang Schlick. There was soon a lively discussion about the penal systems in Germany and Armenia.
On the last day the delegation met Volker Königschulte, who is in charge of fundamental issues of general and specific criminal law and international criminal law at the Federal Ministry of Defence, with whom the delegation talked about the criminal liability of German soldiers in Germany and abroad. The meeting took place in the jury trial courtroom of the Regional Court of Karlsruhe, which was kindly made available to the IRZ by the President of the Regional Court, Mr Alexander Riedel, for this meeting.
The issues of sentencing and judicial assessment will also be a focus of the cooperation between the two institutions in the future. Assessment in particular is being intensively discussed in Armenia, so that the IRZ will certainly continue to provide advice on this subject in the future.