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In close cooperation with the Moroccan General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration (DGAPR), the IRZ organised a seminar on “Social and psychological support for prisoners” on 11 and 12 July 2018 in Rabat, Morocco. The seminar was held as part of the “Cooperation with the Kingdom of Morocco on Prison Management” project, which is being supported by the German Foreign Office and coordinated by the IRZ between 2017 and 2019.
The project allows better networking for prisoners and improved connections with their social environment and society, as well as the increased involvement of Moroccan civil society in providing social and psychological support for prisoners.
Two experts from the Berlin prison system supported the IRZ in carrying out the seminar:
Vera Schiepe, Group Leader at the Heidering penal institution, and
Catharina Troike-Yudha, a psychologist at the women’s penal institution in Berlin.
The Deputy Director of the General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration in Morocco, Hassan Hamina, welcomed the participants to the event. He emphasised that reintegration and the maintenance of safety were the main priorities in prisons.
The Moroccan experts pointed out that social, psychological and cognitive care is an important factor in the reintegration of prisoners. They use international standards for diagnosing and classifying prisoners. When preparing prisoners for release, psychologists therefore work in close cooperation with social workers in Moroccan prisons. As well as informing prisoners about their rights and obligations, they are also responsible for the reintegration of prisoners. Working alongside non-governmental organisations, they develop measures to raise awareness, as well as organising cultural and religious events.
The German experts, Vera Schiepe and Catharina Troike-Yudha, stressed in their lectures that the protection of the general public and the reintegration of prisoners are objectives of the prison system. In open prisons, prisoners should be as involved as possible in society. Social workers are also superior to enforcement officers when it comes to the care of prisoners and are therefore a key point of contact. With the involvement of external staff, psychotherapeutic treatment is provided in closed and open prisons in Germany and is frequently continued after the prisoner’s release.
During the discussions, the Moroccan participants pointed out the important role played by diagnostic procedures in the identification of prisoners at risk. Another subject that frequently came up in discussion was the care of employees in prisons.
The seminar was met with great interest. A second seminar on the same topic is due to take place in November 2018.
On 10 July 2018, the IRZ together with the Moroccan Public Prosecutor’s Office in Casablanca, organised a seminar on “An introduction to toxicology”. This took place as part of the “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. The IRZ is coordinating this project between 2017 and 2019 as part of the project financed by the German Foreign Office (“Transformation partnerships with North Africa/the Middle East”).
Experts from the Berlin Charité gave the participants from public prosecutor’s offices and legal and forensic medicine an overview of toxicology in Germany and pointed out the methods that are currently used for detecting toxic effects.
Following an introduction to the legal framework and terms of forensic toxicology, the speakers talked about the systems used for toxicological examinations. Urine, blood, hair and organs can be used to make statements about the possible cause of death by various substances.
The German experts used examples of cases to demonstrate the particularities of carbon monoxide poisoning, which was used back in ancient times as a means of suicide or murder weapon. The last lecture of the seminar was about the advantages and disadvantages of hair analysis. The lecture dealt in particular with the time window for proving substance misuse and the formal specifications for analysing test subjects.
The participants actively took part in the rounds of questions and discussions that followed the lectures. The introduction to toxicology was a good starting point for talking about the current situation and the cooperation between toxicology institutes, legal and forensic medicine and the public prosecutor’s office in Morocco. Unlike in Germany, toxicology in Morocco is not associated with institutes of legal and forensic medicine, which means that communications between the two different authorities do not always run smoothly.
Further seminars on legal and forensic medicine are planned for Morocco after the summer break. The Moroccan partners continue to show a great deal of interest in the subject.
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.