Study visit to Berlin on asset recovery

Dr. Jutta Kemper (left side, centre) welcomes the Albanian delegation with Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Besfort Lamallari (opposite) at the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection
Dr. Jutta Kemper (left side, centre) welcomes the Albanian delegation with Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Besfort Lamallari (opposite) at the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection

At the invitation of IRZ an Albanian delegation of eleven members visited Berlin between 17 and 20 February 2020 to learn about the German system of asset recovery. The background to this study visit is the Albanian anti-corruption plan. In view of the EU accession talks, amongst others, this plan is a key part of the reform of the justice system.
The Albanian delegation consisted of members of the following institutions:

  • Ministry of Internal Affairs;
  • Ministry of Justice;
  • Special Unit combatting organised crime;
  • Agency for the administration of seized assets
  • Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The delegation, which was accompanied by Deputy Minister for Internal Affairs Besfort Lamallari, started its study visit with expert talks at the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection. After Dr. Jutta Kemper, Head of Directorate, had welcomed the Albanian guests, the representatives of various divisions presented the main statutory amendments in asset recovery in Germany made in 2017. They also gave presentations on the following topics:

  • temporary securing of assets;
  • judicial procedures of asset recovery;
  • enforcement of asset recovery after a final court order;
  • compensation of victims;
  • international judicial legal assistance, including assistance in the enforcement of foreign judgements.

Together with IRZ expert Detlef Kreutzer, former Head of Department for Economic Crime at the Hamburg Land Office of Criminal Investigation, and Horst Bien, leading Senior Public Prosecutor in Duisburg, Prof. Dr. Martin Heger from the Humboldt University in Berlin then presented the fundamentals of European law with regard to asset recovery and explained the difference between an EU Directive and an EU Regulation.

On the following day the Berlin Criminal Court was the next stop on the study visit. There, Jörg Raupach, Director at the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Berlin, and Dr. Nina Thom, Senior Public Prosecutor and Head of the Department for Asset Recovery, explained the responsibilities of the Berlin Public Prosecutor’s Office as well as the organisational changes within the new legal regulation of 2017. In the following expert talks the participants discussed statistical surveys on asset recovery measures, the cooperation with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and a pending case of clan crime in Berlin, in which 77 properties were confiscated. Afterwards, this case and other cases were examined from a police point of view during a visit to the Berlin Land Office of Criminal Investigation together with Police Vice President Marco Langer and Michael Horn, Head of Department LKA 31.

The study visit was concluded at IRZ’s Berlin office together with the two IRZ experts who had been with the Albanian guests during their entire stay. At first, Horst Bien talked about the organisation and areas of competence of the Duisburg Public Prosecutor’s Office. He presented the details of the statistical survey on asset recovery measures. Detlef Kreutzer finally summarized all topics of the study visit and once again pointed out the regulations which the EU accession candidates have to implement with regard to asset recovery.

Building on the topics of the study visit, seminars with all relevant partners are going to take place until the end of 2020, which will focus on a comparative analysis of the Albanian legal situation and the European requirements. Ideally, the seminar results will lead to proposals for specific legislation.

Fourth seminar on constitutional complaints held in Korça, Albania

Arben Lena, President of the Bar Association of Korça, and Prof. Dr. Jan Bergmann, President of the Senate at the Administrative Court of Baden-Württemberg, during discussions at the seminar
Arben Lena, President of the Bar Association of Korça, and Prof. Dr. Jan Bergmann, President of the Senate at the Administrative Court of Baden-Württemberg, during discussions at the seminar

Launched last year, the series of seminars in Albania on constitutional complaints continued on 4 and 5 December 2019. Having held the first three seminars in Tirana and Durrës in the centre of the country, the IRZ organised the fourth seminar in partnership with the Bar Association of Albania in the southern Albanian city of Korça. The background for these seminars is the amendment of the constitution in 2016 and the associated right of citizens to be able to go directly to the Constitutional Court with individual complaints.

The basis for the seminar was the IRZ publication, “Constitutional complaints – a handbook for practitioners from the German and Albanian points of view” issued in 2017, which was written by the speaker at the seminar, Professor Dr. Jan Bergmann, President of the Senate at the Administrative Court of Baden-Württemberg, and his co-author, Dr. Arta Vorpsi, a scientific officer of the Constitutional Court.

On the first day of the seminar, Prof. Bergmann talked about the European human rights dogmatics and test schemes for rights to freedom and fundamental rights, as well as the fundamental right to equality On the following day, he explained to the 19 lawyers attending the event the conditions of admissibility of constitutional complaints in Germany, noted a few of the specific problems associated with this and closed the seminar with a lecture on the current case law of the European Court of Human Rights.

Even though the Constitutional Court of Albania is currently not quorate, Prof. Bergmann encouraged the lawyers to submit suitable cases to help with the continuous further development of the Albanian legal system. He recommended that they refer not only to the Albanian constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights in the complaints, but in view of future EU membership, they should also cite the EU Charter.

Now that the IRZ has covered the subject of constitutional complaints in the middle of the country and in the south-east, a continuation of the series of seminars in Shkodra, the main city in the north of the country, is being considered.

Seminar and Moot Court on asylum law in Tirana

Wolfgang Bartsch addressing the participants during the seminar
Wolfgang Bartsch addressing the participants during the seminar

Albania has traditionally been a transit country for asylum seekers on their way into the EU. Last year, however, an estimated 1% of the refugees were prepared to stay in the country, which led to a 14-fold increase in the number of asylum applications compared with 2017. This means that asylum legislation is playing an increasingly important role in Albania. With this in mind, the IRZ organised a seminar together with the School of Magistrates in Tirana. The seminar took place on 8 and 9 October 2019 and was attended by 18 public prosecutors and judges.

The expert taking part on behalf of the IRZ was Wolfgang Bartsch, a former President of the Administrative Court of Braunschweig. He gave a lecture on the following topics:

  • An introduction to the activities of the administrative judge in Germany,
  • an overview of current developments in the asylum process in Europe and Germany and
  • an overview of the Common European Asylum system and its implementation.

The main part of the seminar was devoted to a Moot Court involving the case of an Afghan family, which was handled by the Administrative Court of Braunschweig in 2017. Wolfgang Bartsch began by introducing the case and then assigned roles to the participants, who played the part of lawyers, public prosecutors and judges. The participants were given time to prepare in groups before the hearing and pronouncement of the judgement. Following on from the Moot Court, the IRZ expert gave the participants feedback and compared the case to the original judgement.

The seminar was rounded off by Manjola Bejleri and Idlir Peci from the School of Magistrates. Their subjects for discussion were:

  • An overview of the Albanian asylum law system and procedure,
  • the status of reform discussions in the light of regulation 121/2014,
  • ways of granting legal protection to asylum seekers in Albania and
  • asylum law in the European Convention on Human Rights.
If possible, this subject should be addressed in more detail over the coming year.