Moroccan delegation make their first study visit to Berlin to learn about legal and forensic medicine

The Moroccan delegation during expert discussions with Peter Faust, Presiding Judge at the Regional Court of Berlin, at the German Association of Judges in Berlin
The Moroccan delegation during expert discussions with Peter Faust, Presiding Judge at the Regional Court of Berlin, at the German Association of Judges in Berlin

Continuing the cooperation with Morocco in the field of legal and forensic medicine, a Moroccan delegation visited Berlin from 11 to 15 September 2017 to learn about the “Potential of legal and forensic medicine for law professionals”. The event was part of a three-year project, which the IRZ is leading together with the Institute of Legal and Forensic Medicine at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. The project is supported by the German Foreign Office as part of the Transformation partnerships with North Africa/the Middle East during the period from 2017 to 2019.

The objective is to support independent legal and forensic medicine in Morocco by providing continued training and education for forensic scientists, developing an appropriate professional code and improving the cooperation between legal and forensic medicine and the justice system.

The delegation was first of all welcomed to expert discussions at the Institute of Legal and Forensic Medicine at Charité Berlin, the focus of which was on the subject of “guaranteeing the independence of legal and forensic medicine”. The following topics in particular were discussed:

  • The structure of the Institute
  • Cooperation with the relevant authorities
  • Financial regulations
  • Criteria for reports and autopsies
  • Continued training and education for forensic scientists and
  • Guaranteeing the independence of legal and forensic medicine in Germany.

This visit also included a practical part and a guided tour of the Department of Forensic Toxicology and the autopsy room.

Further expert discussions were held at the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection. The subjects of discussion here were the cooperation between the Administration of Justice and legal and forensic medicine, the duties of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, criminal proceedings (e.g the investigation and autopsy processes) and the position and status of legal and forensic medicine in German criminal law.

At the German Association of Judges, the delegation was able to discuss legal procedures and the importance of legal and forensic medicine. They also looked at the criteria for reports and their structure, as well as issues concerning documentation.

The closing discussions took place at the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Berlin, with the focus on subjects such as the cooperation between the Public Prosecutor’s Office and legal and forensic medicine and the independence of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The Moroccan guests showed a great deal of interest, actively taking part in the exchange of experiences by asking lots of questions and making remarks on the status of legal and forensic medicine in both countries. They were able to address various topics intensively during the talks, allowing them to gain a deep insight into the way legal and forensic medicine works in Germany.

There continues to be a great requirement for advice in Morocco. The joint expert discussions and events will continue to take place as part of this project until the end of 2019.

Start of a project for cooperation in the field of legal and forensic medicine in Rabat

The experts participating in the seminar: Prof. Hansjürgen Bratzke, Hafid Bahaddouh, Senior Public Prosecutor Ralph Knispel, Dr. Arnd Wöhler (IRZ) (from right to left)

The experts participating in the seminar: Prof. Hansjürgen Bratzke, Hafid Bahaddouh, Senior Public Prosecutor Ralph Knispel, Dr. Arnd Wöhler (IRZ) (from right to left)

On 17 and 18 July 2017, the IRZ organised a seminar in Rabat on the “Possibilities of legal and forensic medicine for judges and public prosecutors”, in cooperation with the Moroccan Ministry of Justice. This was the first event held 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, which the IRZ will coordinate 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 two-day seminar was to point out to the attending Moroccan judges and public prosecutors the potential offered by legal and forensic medicine and the close cooperation between legal and forensic medicine and the justice system, using German experience as an example. The main focus was on elements of guaranteeing the independence of legal and forensic medicine and, in particular, on the significance of forensic reports when it comes to decision-making by public prosecutors and lawyers.

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

  • Prof. Dr. Hansjürgen Bratzke, former Head of the Institute of Legal and Forensic Medicine at the University of Frankfurt,
  • Senior Public Prosecutor Ralph Knispel, Head of Department at the Public Prosecutor's Office in Berlin and Head of the Vereinigung Berliner Staatsanwälte e.V. (Berlin association of public prosecutors) and
  • Hafid Bahaddouh, Criminal Law Division at the Moroccan Ministry of Justice.

The experts led an intense exchange of information and experience on the status of legal and forensic medicine in both countries with their Moroccan colleagues. The Moroccan justice system has recognised the importance of legal and forensic medicine in law enforcement and sentencing criminals and would like to expand the cooperation in this field significantly.

Only 13 registered forensic scientists are currently active in the whole of Morocco. There is no comprehensive system in place for the continued training of judges and public prosecutors in legal and forensic medicine. This currently takes place within the framework of accompanying courses at the Institute of Legal and Forensic Medicine at the University of Casablanca.

There is also an apparent lack of binding rules of procedure in Morocco, e.g. for the use of forensic reports by the justice system, which is managed differently by individual public prosecutor’s offices and courts.

And so there continues to be a great requirement for advice in Morocco, which should be the initial basis of the work of this project.

The seminar received a very positive response from all participants and the expert discussions were correspondingly intense.

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

Delegation from Morocco visit Berlin to discuss the “Independence of the Judiciary”

Expert discussions with the Moroccan delegation at the BMJV

Expert discussions with the Moroccan delegation at the BMJV

From 22 to 25 May 2017, the IRZ organised a two-day study visit to Berlin on the “Independence of the Judiciary” for a delegation from Morocco. The event for senior public prosecutors, judges and law professionals from other disciplines in the Moroccan Ministry of Justice was part of a project financed by the German Foreign Office (Transformation partnerships with North Africa/the Middle East).

The visit followed on from talks at the last conference, which was held at the Moroccan Judicial Academy in Rabat in April. The subject of judicial independence is an elementary component of the reform agenda for the Moroccan justice system and is a priority for the progress of judicial reform.

The Moroccan guests were extremely interested in discussing judicial independence and in finding out about how it works, using German experience as an example.

The delegation was welcomed to expert talks at the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV). The focus here was on the “Independence of the Judiciary in Germany”. Particular attention was paid to the composition of courts in Germany, judges’ salaries in Germany, the work of judges at the BMJV and the legal framework for judges.

Further expert discussions held at the Local Court of Berlin-Tiergarten dealt with many other topics concerning judges:

  • Training judges,
  • The independence of judges in practice,
  • Professional ethics for judges
  • Financing issues,
  • Court reporters,
  • Judicial supervision,
  • Disciplinary measures and
  • Dealing with the media.       

The last port of call for the delegation was the German Association of Judges, where judges’ official duties, E-Justice and the limitations of judicial independence were discussed.

The Moroccan guests showed a great deal of interest, actively taking part in the exchange of experiences by asking lots of questions and making remarks. They were able to discuss various topics intensively during the talks, allowing them to gain a deep insight into the way the courts work in Germany.

Nevertheless, there is still a need to discuss the independence of the judiciary further and in more depth. The IRZ and the German Federal Foreign Office will continue to support the reform efforts in the Moroccan justice system and provide advisory services.