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From 18 to 22 March 2019, the IRZ in Berlin hosted ten public prosecutors from various regions of Morocco for a study visit on “Ways to achieve successful cooperation between the justice system and legal and forensic medicine.”
At the start of the visit, the delegation was welcomed to the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection. After a short introduction to the structure and organisation of the Ministry, the Moroccan guests were able to find out more about the role of forensic reports in criminal proceedings and the relevant legal foundations in this respect. The relationship between the justice system and legal and forensic medicine was also discussed, with a particular focus on the importance of the independence of expertw.
At the Institute of Legal and Forensic Medicine at the Charité Berlin, the deputy head of the institute, Lars Oesterhelweg, presented the various tasks involved in legal and forensic medicine and gave the participants an insight into the current state of legal and forensic medicine in Germany. Afterwards, the participants visited the dissection room, the department of toxicological tests and the outpatients’ clinic for protection against violence at the Institute of Legal and Forensic Medicine,
Other ports of call on the study visit included the Public Prosecutor's Office in Berlin and the LKA (state office of criminal investigation) in Berlin. Thanks to many years of experience in prosecuting homicides, Senior Public Prosecutor Ralph Knispel was able to address many issues concerning the cooperation between public prosecutor’s offices, police criminal investigation departments and legal and forensic medicine. There were some lively discussions on the various challenges facing Germany and Morocco in this area. Detective Chief Inspector Guido Sündermann explained the practicalities of this kind of cooperation using an example case. He explained in which cases a forensic scientist is called to the scene of the crime in Germany and to what extent the investigations of police and forensic medicine are kept separate from one another.
The study visit by the Moroccan delegation 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, 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 next study visit on this subject will take place in June 2019.
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.
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.