Moroccan delegation visits Berlin for a study visit on legal and forensic medicine

Expert discussions at the State Office of Criminal Investigations with Udo Gabriel (middle, at the back) from the Berlin homicide division.
Expert discussions at the State Office of Criminal Investigations with Udo Gabriel (middle, at the back) from the Berlin homicide division.
Morocco

In cooperation with the Moroccan Ministry of Justice in the field of legal and forensic medicine, a Moroccan delegation visited Berlin from 18 to 21 June 2018 to learn about the “Potential of legal and forensic medicine for law professionals”.

The event was part of a three-year project due for completion in 2019, which the IRZ is leading together with the Institute of Legal and Forensic Medicine at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, supported by the German Foreign Office as part of the transformation partnerships with North Africa/the Middle East.

The objectives are to support independent legal and forensic medicine in Morocco by providing continued training and education for forensic scientists and to improve the cooperation between the justice system and legal and forensic medicine. The latter should be achieved through the continued training of judges and public prosecutors in legal and forensic medicine.

The event began with a visit to the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, where the speaker and regional court judge, Daniela Obermeier from the RB3 “Criminal proceedings (investigation process, enforcement measures)” division outlined the cooperation between the justice system and legal and forensic medicine from the German point of view. Following an introduction to the structure and organisation of the German Federal Ministry, the lecture dealt with the legal status of legal and forensic medicine in German criminal proceedings. The speaker explained specifically how legal and forensic medicine is involved in criminal proceedings and how the justice system deals with any potentially inaccurate reports.
During the subsequent visit to the German Association of Judges, the participants learned from Peter Faust, Presiding Judge at the Regional Court of Berlin, how expert opinions are analysed in court. He talked in particular about recognising signs of torture and the use of force.

On the second day, expert discussions were held at the Institute of Legal and Forensic Medicine at the Charité Berlin. The participants were given an insight into the work of the Charité Berlin, followed by a guided tour of the Department of Forensic Pathology and Toxicology. During the expert discussions, the Head of Forensic Pathology and Senior Physician, Dr. Lars Oesterhelweg, explained in detail the various tasks involved in legal and forensic medicine and gave an insight into the current situation of legal and forensic medicine in Germany. He also explained how forensic scientists are trained in Germany. During the subsequent discussions, Dr. Oesterhelweg answered questions on the production and evaluation of forensic reports.
In the afternoon, the Moroccan guests attended expert discussions with Udo Gabriel from the department responsible for investigating crime scenes and evidence at the Berlin homicide division. Udo Gabriel gave details of the work of the homicide division and relations with the police, public prosecutor’s office and legal and forensic medicine. During the subsequent expert discussions on “securing evidence”, the participants learned how the securing of evidence by police and by forensic scientists is differentiated and the role this plays in the production of expert opinions.

This study visit organised by the IRZ was met with a great deal of interest by the participants, who made the most of the opportunity to ask plenty of questions and take an active part in discussions.

Seminar on “Professional, vocational and artistic training for prisoners” in Rabat

IRZ Head of Section Mohamed Montasser Abidi; Ambassador Dr. Götz Schmidt-Bremme; Secretary General Younes Jabrane and Hassan Hmina, DGAPR (from left to right)
IRZ Head of Section Mohamed Montasser Abidi; Ambassador Dr. Götz Schmidt-Bremme; Secretary General Younes Jabrane and Hassan Hmina, DGAPR (from left to right)

On 10 and 11 May 2018, the IRZ together with the General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration (DGAPR) organised a seminar on “Professional, vocational and artistic training for prisoners” in Rabat, Morocco. The event took place as part of the “Cooperation with the Kingdom of Morocco on Prison Management” project, which the IRZ is coordinating between 2017 and 2019. This project is being financed by the German Foreign Office as part of the Transformation partnerships with North Africa/the Middle East.

The seminar was aimed at teaching participants about the potential for training prisoners to ensure their successful reintegration. As a first step, the mechanisms for establishing further training requirements, such as classifying and diagnosing prisoners, were introduced. The seminar continued with a look at training opportunities, the work situation itself and qualifications for prisoners. The participants also learned about local circumstances as far as training is concerned, partnerships with the private sector and the involvement of external parties, for example for the recognition of qualifications.

The event was opened by the Secretary General of the DGAPR, Younes Jabrane, and the German Ambassador in Morocco, Dr. Götz Schmidt-Bremme. The German experts taking part on behalf of the IRZ were Katja Adolph, Head of Employment and Qualification at the Berlin young offenders’ institution, and Mirjam Drechsel, Head of Employment and Qualification at the women’s penal institution in Berlin. The German Foreign Office was represented by the Ambassador, as well as by Antje Gade, Head of the Legal and Consulate department at the German Embassy.

The Moroccan government has been reacting to the challenges facing the prison system for several years now and has carried out some serious reforms in this area. Since the establishment of the first training companies five years ago, 56 training companies have now been set up and others are in the planning stage. The number of prisoners benefiting from training has increased from 5,000 to 9,000 in that time.

The participants showed a great deal of interest in the seminar, which was reflected in the large number of questions and feedback on the situation in Morocco. The project will be continued with a study visit to Berlin on the same subject in June 2018.

Conference on cooperation between the justice system and legal and forensic medicine in Marrakesh

Participants in the conference in Marrakesh
Participants in the conference in Marrakesh

On 18 and 19 April 2018, the IRZ and the Moroccan Public Prosecutor’s Office organised a conference in Marrakesh on “Discovery of a corpse – cooperation between the justice system and legal and forensic medicine”. This took place as part of the project “Cooperation with the Kingdom of Morocco in the field of legal and forensic medicine, with particular consideration paid to the concerns of the Moroccan justice system” project, which the IRZ is coordinating between 2017 and 2019 as part of the project financed by the German Foreign Office (Transformation partnerships with North Africa/the Middle East).

The objective of the conference was to point out to the attending judges and public prosecutors the importance of a trusting working relationship between public prosecutors, forensic scientists and the police. A practical example of the discovery of a corpse was used to discuss the crucial roles played by all three parties involved in the criminal investigation.

On the first day, the participants were given an introduction to the work carried out by forensic scientists and a homicide division in Germany. Afterwards, the role played by the public prosecutor’s office in criminal investigations in Germany was explained. The participants were particularly surprised to learn that public prosecutors in Germany are also present at the crime scene.

On the second day, the conference looked in more detail at the authorities that are responsible for recording specific information and evidence at the crime scene and how this information is exploited in forensic reports. Detailed explanations were provided of the mistakes to be avoided when securing evidence and establishing forensic reports to ensure that reports can be used in court. This led to a discussion of the difficulties legal and medical experts may have in understanding one another, which can lead to forensic reports being unusable in court.

The participants showed a great deal of interest in the subject and asked many specific questions. It became apparent that the cooperation between public prosecutors, forensic scientists and the police is quite different in Morocco and so the discussions were particularly fruitful on this subject. Because of this very positive response, the IRZ is planning two further seminars on the same subject this year.

The subject of legal and forensic medicine is playing an increasingly important role in Morocco, since the involvement of well-trained forensic scientists in criminal investigations has been recognised and changes are desired. This is reflected in the fact that even the Agence Marocaine de Presse (MAP) [LINK https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zNHDQSKBN]has reported on this event.

The following experts were appointed by the IRZ to take part:

  • Dr. Lars Oesterhelweg, Deputy Director of the Institute of Legal and Forensic Medicine at Charité Berlin,
  • Senior Public Prosecutor Ralph Knispel, Head of the Capital Offences Department at the Public Prosecutor's Office in Berlin and President of the Berliner Staatsanwälte e.V. (Berlin association of public prosecutors),
  • Detective Chief Inspector Christof Lehmkühler, State Office of Criminal Investigation in Berlin, and
  • Souidi El Hassan, Deputy Judge at the Court of Appeal in Marrakesh.

The project activities are set to continue in June 2018 with a study visit by a Moroccan delegation to Berlin.