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On 16 and 17 December 2019, the IRZ organised its fourth successive “Introduction to German law” seminar for Arabic-speaking law professionals and lawyers from Syria and Iraq. The aim of this series of events is for participants to learn about the structure of the German court system and about German criminal and civil law. The focus was on using illustrative case examples to shed light both on German legal practice and on the interplay between various judicial authorities, as well as on referring to the everyday experiences of the refugees and discussing these together. This not only led to animated exchanges and plenty of interesting questions, it also encourages the integration of refugees into German society and enhances their understanding of legal issues. The Syrian law professionals were frequently able to draw parallels between the German and Syrian or Iraqi legal systems.
The seminar was led by the experienced judges Uwe Stark, a judge at the Local Court of Siegen, and Dr. Arndt Weishaupt, a judge at the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf.
Although there are limited prospects for refugees from a legal background to gain a foothold in the legal profession in Germany, the seminar provides them with the possibility of expanding on the knowledge gained in their home countries and address the similarities and differences between the two legal systems.
The seminar was financed by the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV).
On 3 and 4 December 2019, the IRZ, together with the German Association of Judges, organised an international conference of the Memorandum Group of Associations of Judges on “International cooperation in civil and criminal affairs” at the Regional Court of Bonn.
The IRZ has supported the annual expert meetings of the Associations of Judges from Armenia, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Poland, Ukraine and Uzbekistan since 2011. The conference serves as a platform for the exchange of experiences between representatives of the judiciary from all these countries. It enables participants to forge stronger regional links and exchange experiences on similar problems or discuss current legal reforms.
This year’s conference focussed on the following topics:
Acceptance and enforcement of judgements
Extradition to other countries, including the European arrest warrant
International investigations into computer and internet crime
Thirteen representatives of the Associations of Judges in the Memorandum Group took part in this event. The German Association of Judges (DRB) was represented by its Chairman, Jens Gnisa. He opened the conference alongside the President of the Regional Court of Bonn, Dr. Stefan Weismann, and the Managing Director of the IRZ, Dr. Frauke Bachler.
The conference was also supported by five experts from Germany:
Dr. Jan Peter Teubel, Department I A 5 (Private International Law), German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection
Dr. Sebastian Trautmann, Head of Department III 5 (EU affairs and legal assistance to foreign countries in criminal cases), Ministry of Justice for the North Rhine-Westphalia region
Dr. Matthias Modrey, Senior Public Prosecutor, Prosecutor General’s office in Düsseldor
Markus Hartmann, Senior Public Prosecutor as Senior Head of Department, Head of the ZAC NRW (Cybercrime Centre)
Dr. Barbara Vogelsang, Senior Public Prosecutor, Public Prosecutor's Office in Münster
During the meeting, the German speakers and participants in the conference shed light on many important aspects of international cooperation in civil and criminal affairs, as well as on the associated challenges and potential for finding solutions. This ensured that, once again this year, the event achieved its objective of supporting international dialogue on the rule of law.
From 6 to 11 October 2019, the IRZ organised the first French-speaking internship programme for legal practitioners from the Maghreb. The introductory seminar on German civil and administrative law, law on lawyers and notarial law was aimed at judges from civil and administrative courts, notaries and lawyers from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. A total of 30 people from these three countries attended the event in Hammamet, Tunisia.
Representing the German side at the seminar were the following experts:
Dr. Sabine Schönknecht, a judge at the Higher Regional Court of Dresden,
Dr. Hanns Christian John, a judge at the Higher Regional Administrative Court of Saxony, and
Dr. Torsten Jäger, a notary in Landstuhl, Rhineland-Palatinate.
Following a general introduction to German private law, court organisation and judicial autonomy in the Federal Republic of Germany, the various professional groups discussed the following topics:
Civil and administrative proceedings in Germany,
proceedings at first instance and appeal proceedings,
an introduction to German administrative law (including special provisions),
an introduction to German notarial law – rules of procedure, ethics, remuneration of notaries, entry to the profession and activity,
an introduction to German real estate law and
an introduction to inheritance law and German matrimonial property law, including the relevant European private international law.
The discussions were extremely lively and the participants showed a great deal of interest in learning about the German system. The inter-regional approach also gave the participants an opportunity to network and to discuss the various procedures in neighbouring countries and to collect ideas for the upcoming reforms in their own countries.
The second phase of the programme is set to give three representatives from each professional group the opportunity over the next year to attend German courts or chambers of lawyers or notaries and to see how the knowledge they have gained works in practice.