Seminar on “Protective Measures for Minor Victims and Witnesses of Criminal Offences“ in Pristina

During the seminar with Brigitte Koppenhöfer (right at the front), former Presiding Judge at the Regional Court of Düsseldorf, and Dr. Thomas Matusche (on her left), former President of the Local Court of Hann. Münden, and now President of the Law Students Examination Authority (Justizprüfungsamt) for the Lower Saxony region.
During the seminar with Brigitte Koppenhöfer (right at the front), former Presiding Judge at the Regional Court of Düsseldorf, and Dr. Thomas Matusche (on her left), former President of the Local Court of Hann. Münden, and now President of the Law Students Examination Authority (Justizprüfungsamt) for the Lower Saxony region.
Kosovo

On 9 and 10 September 2019 the IRZ, in cooperation with the Kosovo Academy of Justice and UNICEF, organised a two-day seminar on “Protective Measures for Minor Victims and Witnesses of Criminal Offences”. The event enabled an exchange of experiences based on European guidelines and was aimed at making a contribution towards more child-friendliness in the justice system of the Republic of Kosovo. The German speakers at the seminar were:

  • Brigitte Koppenhöfer, former Presiding Judge at the Regional Court of Düsseldorf and
  • Dr. Thomas Matusche, former President of the Local Court of Hann. Münden, and now President of the Law Students Examination Authority (Justizprüfungsamt) for the Lower Saxony region.

The event was aimed at practitioners in the field of the Kosovan juvenile criminal law. The first seminar day was attended by judges and public prosecutors who discussed the following topics:

  • Definition of the term “minor victims and witnesses”;
  • European guidelines;
  • a room for witnesses;
  • exclusion of the public and/or the accused;
  • video hearing;
  • information and participation rights and
  • psychosocial victim support

On the second seminar day, probation officers and members of the youth court assistance service exchanged their experiences, focusing on the following topics:

  • Function of the youth court assistance service/probation service in investigation proceedings and court proceedings involving young people;
  • function in the enforcement of judgements;
  • reports on the social settings;
  • cooperation between the probation service, judges and public prosecutors.

The event met with great interest among the participants. It became apparent that a child-friendly justice system is still a topical and relevant issue. On both seminar days, the participants exchanged their experiences with this topic in working groups and engaged in lively discussions on different suggestions for improvement with the IRZ experts. They identified potentials for practical advancements in the jurisdiction with juvenile victims and witnesses and in the probation service.

The participants had a lively exchange of opinions and were able to extend their expertise in protective measures for minor victims and witnesses of criminal offences, thus gaining many new perspectives on the topic.


Seminar on rights protecting juveniles and legal counsel in Pristina

During the seminar
During the seminar
Kosovo

In collaboration with the Kosovo Bar and UNICEF Kosovo, the IRZ conducted a seminar on rights protecting juveniles and legal counsel representing them at all stages of court proceedings on 11 and 12 July 2019. The event was attended by 25 Kosovar lawyers.

Dr. Toralf Nöding, IRZ expert and lawyer from Berlin, kicked off the seminar with an introductory look at practice in the area of German juvenile criminal law using case studies. He addressed general and specific requirements for legal representation of juvenile delinquents by counsel, the work performed by institutions involved in juvenile criminal proceedings and the effective participation of juveniles. Dr. Nöding also described the underlying educative strategy aimed at changing behaviour in all phases of criminal proceedings: in the arrest procedure, police questioning, possibly pre-trial detention, during court hearings, the pronouncement of sanctions and, possibly, subsequent detention.

A further complex of topics focused on guidelines laid down by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe for a Child-Friendly Justice and their implementation in EU Directive 2016/800. This Directive incorporates the fundamental principles of justice for children and young persons, such as the best interests of the child and protection against discrimination, as well as the rights of young people, ranging from participation in court proceedings to the right to parental assistance. In this context, Dr. Nöding also explored possible problems that may arise in the course of implementation of the Directive. 

The IRZ expert also explained what kinds of communication are in line with the needs of children and adolescents in every phase of the procedure. Finally, he offered the participants some valuable tips in connection with specific situations, drawing on experience from his own legal practice. The seminar was well received by the participants. There was a lively discussion. 

The event was funded by the German Federal Foreign Office as an additional contribution to Kosovo's convergence with EU jurisdiction over the long term.

Event held in Pristina to celebrate the conclusion of the EU twinning project on legal harmonisation

Ardian Bajraktari, Project Manager, Ministry of Justice for the Republic of Kosovo; Riccardo Serri, Acting Head of Office, EUO/EUSR in Kosovo; Abelard Tahiri, Minister of Justice for the Republic of Kosovo; Ambassador Christian Heldt, German Embassy in Kosovo; Ulrich Hermanski, Project Manager, IRZ; Dr. Julie Trappe, Resident Twinning Adviser, IRZ (from left to right)
Ardian Bajraktari, Project Manager, Ministry of Justice for the Republic of Kosovo; Riccardo Serri, Acting Head of Office, EUO/EUSR in Kosovo; Abelard Tahiri, Minister of Justice for the Republic of Kosovo; Ambassador Christian Heldt, German Embassy in Kosovo; Ulrich Hermanski, Project Manager, IRZ; Dr. Julie Trappe, Resident Twinning Adviser, IRZ (from left to right)
Kosovo

On 16 May 2019, an event was held in the Kosovan capital, Pristina, to celebrate the conclusion of the EU twinning project on “Strengthening policy formulation and legislative drafting” implemented by the IRZ. This event was attended by the Minister of Justice for Kosovo, Abelard Tahiri. During his speech, he underlined the importance of the project for Kosovo’s ultimate goal of entering the EU.

The EU twinning project led on from the successful cooperation between the IRZ and the Kosovan Ministry of Justice, which has been in place since 2009. Since the start of the project in 2016, the IRZ has supported the Ministry in the following areas:

  • Strategic planning in the justice system,
  • legal harmonisation and legislation,
  • the effective implementation of laws and
  • justice and the media.

100 missions have been carried out on these subjects in the form of workshops, training sessions and consultation visits by 40 short-term experts from five different countries (Germany, Croatia, Slovenia, France and the Netherlands).

Over the past few months, there has been a particular focus on supporting the Ministry of Justice with the “Functional Review of the Rule of Law Sector”, a large-scale analysis of the justice sector from the point of view of the EU alignment process. 

The close collaboration with the Kosovan Ministry of Justice has resulted, amongst other things, in various draft laws, for example on Private International Law and legal aid for civil law cases. It has also resulted in commentaries on legal aid in criminal cases. Employees at the Ministry of Justice have been trained in specific examples of regulatory impact analysis and ex-post assessment. There has also been a regular exchange of experiences with experts from various European countries on the subjects of communications and public relations.

Even after the twinning project has ended, the IRZ will continue to work with the Kosovan Ministry of Justice in the future and will also continue to support Kosovo in the process of joining the EU.