Exchange of experiences on the “Digitalisation of the Justice System”

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ
Algeria

On 12 July 2021, IRZ together with the Algerian Ministry of Justice, organised an online exchange of experiences on the “Digitalisation of the Justice System”. There were some high-ranking participants on the Algerian side, including representatives from the Ministry of Justice, public prosecutors and judges from almost all the judicial districts in Algeria. In total 330 participants from Algeria attended the online event.

The following experts attended the event on behalf of IRZ

  • Dr. Lars Bierschenk, a judge at the Regional Court of Bonn, currently assigned to the Central IT Service of the Justice Department for North Rhine Westphalia (ITD) at the Higher Regional court of Cologne
  • Yvonne Bach, Presiding Judge at the Administrative Court of DüsseldorfPascal Décarpes, criminologist and international consultant in the fields of criminal justice and prison management

The following experts participated from the Algerian side:

  • Mohamed Hammouche, Head of the Directorate General for the Modernisation of Justice, Ministry of Justice
  • Mohamed Attou, Deputy Head of the Directorate General for Judicial Education and Training, Ministry of Justice
  • M. Athmane, IT Expert, Directorate General for the Modernisation of Justice
  • Jeloul Boukir, Engineer and IT Expert, Directorate General for the Digitalisation of Justice

The seminar marked the start of cooperation with Algeria in the field of digitalisation of the justice system. It addressed the central theoretical and practical aspects of digitalisation, predominantly in relation to electronic legal transactions and electronic files as well as criminal proceedings. In the course of implementing the 2015 law 15-03 on the modernisation of the judiciary, the Algerian Ministry of Justice has developed a national strategy for digitalisation in all areas of the judiciary. This is already being implemented in many judicial districts in Algeria. A central goal is to accelerate procedures and increase transparency. One of the first steps is the establishment of a central database for all decisions and judgements of the courts of all instances, which will also be accessible to all citizens of Algeria.

During lively discussions, the participants discussed the benefits of a gradual introduction of digital solutions. In contrast to Germany, where the focus of digitalisation was initially placed on the area of civil proceedings, Algeria is currently planning a simultaneous digitalisation of all areas of the justice system. There was a general consensus that the Covid 19 pandemic has led to a significant acceleration of previous developments in the digitalisation of the justice system, which is becoming increasingly accepted.

The Algerian participants showed particular interest in further advice on aspects of digitalisation in the field of criminal law and the penal system, especially with regard to video trials. There is also a need to adapt administrative structures to the digitalisation of the justice system in the area of data protection as well as in the further training of staff. IRZ will take up these issues in future planned seminars.

Exchange of experiences on asset recovery

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ
Algeria

On 25 May 2021, IRZ organised an online seminar on asset recovery in cooperation with the Algerian Ministry of Justice for participants from all over the country. There were some high-ranking participants on the Algerian side from the central government, the Public Prosecutor General's Office, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, as well as judges in the field of economic crimes from numerous judicial districts in Algeria.

The following experts attended the event on behalf of IRZ:

  • Georg Schäfer, Head of Division II B 7 "International criminal law and cooperation in extradition and enforcement" at the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV)
  • Dr Urs Wäckerlin, a desk officer from Division II B 7 of the BMJV
  • Natalia Spitz, a desk officer from Division III 1 "Extradition, enforcement and legal assistance" at the German Federal Office of Justice

The following experts participated from the Algerian side:

  • Mohamed Riadh Boujaleb, Head of the Education and Training Department at the Algerian Ministry of Justice
  • Ragad Abdelrahim, an investigating judge at the Algiers Judicial Centre for Economic and Financial Crimes
  • Afef Bouchlit, a judge at the Regional Directorate of Criminal Justic

Both sides welcomed the continuation of the previous cooperation on this highly topical issue. The seminar focused on the respective legal frameworks and practices of both countries in the field of asset recovery. This mainly covered the formal requirements for requests for legal assistance and the seizure and confiscation of unlawfully obtained assets.

The challenges in international judicial cooperation were also discussed. Georg Schäfer emphasised the good and trusting relations between Germany and Algeria in terms of mutual legal assistance. The importance of cooperation in the field of asset recovery, which between Germany and Algeria is on a non-treaty basis, is steadily growing, which is why the Algerian side emphasised its desire for bilateral and multilateral agreements.

Both sides identified as one of the main obstacles the extended duration of proceedings, which in some cases prevents the assets from being seized in time. High formal and substantive requirements make it difficult to submit requests for mutual legal assistance and require in-depth knowledge of the applicable legal situation in other states.

This exchange of experiences helped to clarify concrete practical questions about procedures, as well as promoting mutual understanding through direct contact between the central authorities of both states. It therefore made a valuable contribution to further cooperation.

Conference on the “Appeal decisions of Supreme Courts” in Algiers

Opening of the event by the President of the Cour Suprême, Abdel Rachid Tibi:  Abdelmadjid Silini, President of the Bar Association of Algeria.; Dr. Frauke Bachler, Managing Director of the IRZ, and Andreas Fiedler, Envoy of the German Embassy in Algiers (from left to right)
Opening of the event by the President of the Cour Suprême, Abdel Rachid Tibi: Abdelmadjid Silini, President of the Bar Association of Algeria.; Dr. Frauke Bachler, Managing Director of the IRZ, and Andreas Fiedler, Envoy of the German Embassy in Algiers (from left to right)
Algeria

On 28 November 2019, the IRZ, together with the German Federal Bar Association, the Algerian Bar Association and the Algerian Supreme Court (Cour Suprême), organised a conference on the “Appeal decisions of Supreme Courts” in Algiers. The IRZ experts taking part in the conference were Thomas Offenloch, a judge at the German Federal Court of Justice, and Otmar Kury, a lawyer specialising in criminal law.

The reopening and possible review of supreme court decisions is currently a subject of controversial debate in Algeria. The topicality of the subject was reflected in the high media presence at the event. In particular since the resignation of former President Bouteflika and ahead of the elections expected to be held in December, the Algerian Cour Suprême is facing considerable challenges and is under a huge amount of political pressure. The subject of the review of “unlawful verdicts” has a major role to play here. The conditions for the admissibility of appeal proceedings are formulated in very vague terms in the Algerian code of procedure. In addition, there are no reliable “filters” for submission to the court, which would allow only select cases to be handled by the Cour Suprême. The court is therefore significantly overloaded.

The following are some of the main topics discussed by the participants:

  • Appeal arrangements for court decisions at the Supreme Court in Algiers;
  • German appeal proceedings at the example of the German Federal Court of Justice, from the point of view of criminal and civil law: denial of leave to appeal, appeal proceedings, errors of fact or law;
  • German appeal proceedings from the lawyer’s perspective at the German Federal Court of Justice, the German Federal Labour Court, the German Federal Administrative Court, the Federal Social Court of Germany and the German Federal Fiscal Court, with particular consideration for criminal appeal proceedings.

The presentation of the appeal proceedings at the Supreme Court in Tunisia also included a regional comparison.

This event represented the first step in the partnership between the Supreme Court and the Bar Association in Algeria and took place within the framework of the institutional grant from the funds of the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection. The cooperation between the project partners is set to be intensified over the year to come, with the aim of making a contribution towards ensuring legal unity and the continued development of the law in Algeria.