Seminar on the “Humane treatment of prisoners in Moroccan prisons” held in Marrakesh

During the seminar
During the seminar
Morocco

On 19 and 20 February 2019, the IRZ ,together with the General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration (DGAPR), organised a third seminar on the “Humane treatment of prisoners in Moroccan prisons” in Marrakesh, Morocco. The event 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.

Two employees of the Berlin prison system provided the IRZ with expert support in the organisation of the seminar:

  • Stefan Tydecks, a psychologist in the admissions department at the Moabit penal institution, and
  • Michael Weise, Head of General Law Enforcement at the Tegel penal institution.

Reolonane Koutane from the DGAPR opened the event by praising the close historical ties between Morocco and Germany, which would be made even stronger by the seminar.

As a result of a reform process, Morocco has gradually abolished the old penal system, starting with the constitution of 1962. Since then, the focus has no longer been exclusively on imprisonment for the protection of society, but on safeguarding the humane treatment of prisoners and their reintegration. The DGAPR is aiming to achieve a new image for penal institutions, with the emphasis on their educational work.

The lectures given at the seminar by the German and Moroccan experts shed light on the legislative history of safeguarding human rights in prisons. In the Moroccan law on the penal system and in the new 2011 constitution, the safeguarding of prisoners’ basic rights is guaranteed. Several institutions set up specifically for this purpose review the respect of human rights in prisons. One of the most important of these is the National Human Rights Council of Morocco, which was reformed in 2018.

As a result of the efforts made by the DGAPR to ensure the continuous improvement of respect for prisoners’ human rights, food supplies have been privatised and the provision of services has also been improved considerably. In addition, an electronic complaints management system has been set up on a national level.

In the German penal system, the treatment mission for prisons is of critical importance. The main objective of the penal system in Germany is reintegration into society. With the aim of releasing prisoners to live a crime-free life, the German experts presented in their lectures measures for relaxing imprisonment conditions, in which certain requirements or safety measures can be determined. The prisoners have no legal claim to these privileges. However, with a positive prognosis, even high-risk offenders can benefit from such privileges in Germany. Terrorists, on the other hand, are excluded from these programs in the German penal system. In Morocco, a strategy for reconciliation with themselves and with religious sources and society is applied for the reintegration of terrorists.

When it comes to accommodating extremist prisoners, attention must be paid to their humane treatment as well as to security concerns. In this respect, the German experts expressed the need for appropriate training measures for prison staff in dealing with this group of prisoners.

During the seminar discussions, the participants pointed out similar experiences in Moroccan and German prisons and were very interested in working out shared solutions to problems. In particular when it comes to release on parole, there are similar requirements for prisoners in both systems. There were also some lively discussions on the design of an open prison. The focus here was on long sentences and the treatment of high-risk offenders.

Introduction to toxicology seminar in Marrakesh

Participants and speakers at the seminar in Rabat
Participants and speakers at the seminar in Rabat
Morocco

On 6 and 7 February 2019 the IRZ, together with the Moroccan Public Prosecutor’s Office in Marrakesh, organised a seminar on „An introduction to toxicology“. This took place as part of the project on “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 Federal Foreign Office (Transformation Partnerships with North Africa/the Middle East).

As in the previous year, some 30 public prosecutors and forensic scientists received basic training in the work of toxicological laboratories. +The objective was to show the possibilities provided by toxicology in investigative work. Urine, blood, hair and organs can be used to make statements about the possible cause of death by various substances.

The two German toxicologists André Niebel und Lena Westendorf from the Institute of Legal and Forensic Medicine at the Charité Berlin were invited as experts. They talked about the significance and methods of toxicological examinations for clarifying deaths with the help of examples from a large number of selected death cases. Representatives of the Moroccan Sûreté Nationale and the Gendarmerie Royale also gave lectures about the work in the toxicological laboratories of their institutes.

In Morocco, there are currently only three laboratories (two in Rabat and one in Casablanca) where samples can be examined. The inappropriate storage of samples during transport is therefore a big problem.

Many participants made the most of the discussions to address current problems in the cooperation between legal and forensic medicine, toxicology and the Public Prosecutor’s Office. A particular point of criticism was the fact that toxicologists are not provided with any information about legal and forensic reports after being entrusted with an examination by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which makes their work much harder, whereas in Germany, legal and forensic medicine and toxicology work hand in hand. The lively discussions show that this is an important topic and that there is further need of discussions and advice.

Another seminar is due to take place on this subject in Tanger at the end of 2019.

Expert discussions in Rabat on “Incorporating and developing a professional code for forensic scientists”

Prof. Dr. Ahmed Belhouss, Institute of Legal and Forensic Medicine, Morocco; Dr. Michael Klintschar, Hanover Medical School; Zakaria Arousi, Moroccan Public Prosecutor’s Office (from left to right)
Prof. Dr. Ahmed Belhouss, Institute of Legal and Forensic Medicine, Morocco; Dr. Michael Klintschar, Hanover Medical School; Zakaria Arousi, Moroccan Public Prosecutor’s Office (from left to right)
Morocco

On 28 November 2018, expert discussions involving the Moroccan Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Moroccan Institute of Legal and Forensic Medicine (SMML) were held on the subject of “Incorporating and developing a professional code for forensic scientists”.

The event was part of a three-year project, which the IRZ is leading between 2017 and 2019 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 aim of this project is 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 by providing continued training for judges and public prosecutors in legal and forensic medicine.

These expert talks were a one-day consolidation event, to which selected Moroccan forensic scientists and public prosecutors were invited.

The main subject of the discussions was the current draft legislation on a professional code for forensic scientists in Morocco, which is due to be approved next year.

During the discussions, the focus was on the following topics in particular:

  • Responsibilities, rights and duties in forensic medicine,
  • the registration of forensic scientists,
  • provisions for autopsies and the production of reports,
  • liability and criminal sanctions and
  • regulations for general practitioners working in legal and forensic medicine.

New approaches to further education in legal and forensic medicine, which are also aimed at general practitioners, were also discussed. Specifically, the discussions centred on the establishment of new centres of legal and forensic medicine, where trained general practitioners can carry out simple forensic procedures.

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

  • Prof. Dr. Michael Klintschar, Director of the Institute of Legal and Forensic Medicine at the Hanover medical school,
  • Prof. Dr. Ahmed Belhouss, Director of the Institute of Legal and Forensic Medicine, Morocco, and
  • Zakaria Arousi, Head of criminal sanctions and judicial affairs at the Moroccan Public Prosecutor’s Office.
During the expert talks, there was an animated exchange of experience with lively discussions. The Moroccan partners expressed that they would be interested in holding further expert talks of this kind. A meeting on implementing the planned legislation for a professional code is envisaged.