Inaugural seminar held in Tsaghkadzor on practical issues concerning the prison system with a view to international standards

Participants in the inaugural seminar on the prison system held in Tsaghkadzor

Participants in the inaugural seminar on the prison system held in Tsaghkadzor

Practical issues concerning the prison system with a view to international standards were the subjects of discussion at an inaugural seminar, organised by the IRZ on 4 and 5 May 2017 in Tsaghkadzor. The IRZ’s partner for this event was the penal institution department at the Armenian Ministry of Justice.

To speak on behalf of Germany, the IRZ was able to attract senior government official, Thomas  Müller, prison director at the Karlsruhe penal institution. During his lectures, Thomas Müller discussed the treatment of prisoners, criminogenic factors, diagnostic possibilities, risk assessment, treatment measures, sentence planning and the organisational structure of prisons using various organisation charts. He also presented special modular treatment programmes for sex offenders and violent criminals and the work opportunities for prisoners in western Europe. Another topic covered during the event involved disciplinary measures against prisoners.

On the Armenian side, Gevorg Simonyan, Director of the Armavir penal institution, outlined the situation regarding work opportunities for prisoners in Armenia.

The majority of the 55 or so participants at the event were representatives from various penal institutions throughout Armenia, as well as employees of the penal institution department at the Ministry of Justice. Encouragingly, the restructured training centre at the Ministry of Justice and the Armenian Ombudsman’s office also showed an interest in the seminar, with representatives from both institutions also taking part.

This inaugural event on the subject of the prison system, which was organised for a large number of participants with many different contact persons, was the first of many seminars, which will be carried out with small groups in the individual penal institutions. In the meantime, the representatives from the penal institutions were asked to discuss selected topics further and present the results at the seminars to be held later on. This will mean that the training sessions will be more targeted and more thorough.

Seminar on sentencing held in Yerevan with the Judicial Academy of the Republic of Armenia

Sergey Arakelyan (on the left), Director of the Armenian Judicial Academy; Alexander Fühling,  a judge at the local court of Bonn

Sergey Arakelyan (on the left), Director of the Armenian Judicial Academy; Alexander Fühling,  a judge at the local court of Bonn

On 2 and 3 May 2017, a seminar on sentencing was held in partnership with the Judicial Academy of the Republic of Armenia in Yerevan. German experts contributing to the event for the IRZ were Alexander Fühling, a judge at the local court of Bonn, and Senior Public Prosecutor Wolf-Tilman Baumert, who is head of the department of economic crime and press officer at the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Wuppertal.

The “Sentencing” seminar covered the following sub-topics, amongst others:

  • The fundamentals and objectives of imposing sentences,
  • Points of reference for sentencing,
  • Sentencing facts and the ban on double counting,
  • Specific sentencing,
  • Review of sentencing by the appeals court,
  • Special cases of conduct after the crime: perpetrator-victim settlements and reparation for damages, as well as leniency programmes.

Release on licence and prosecution of offences carried out abroad and suspended sentences and provisions for special cases (particularities of provisions for economic, corruption and tax cases and for cases of drug-related and violent crimes) were also discussed.

The two German experts were able to report respectively from the perspective of the judge and the public prosecutor, thanks to their professional activities. This also corresponded with the composition of the seminar attendees, who were trainee judges and public prosecutors. A training course at the Judicial Academy is compulsory in Armenia for both of these professions. The selection of candidates followed by an examination takes place prior to this vocational training.

The Judicial Academy of the Republic of Armenia was represented at the event by its Director, Sergey Arakelyan, amongst others. The participants showed a great deal of interest and were extremely motivated. They asked a lot of questions, joined in with lively discussions and also made suggestions for other events. As this seminar is the first event of its kind to be held with the Armenian Judicial Academy, it would be appropriate to take up the participants’ suggestions and take them into account for future events.

Two IRZ projects for students in Armenia in cooperation with Yerevan State University

The IRZ concluded its work in Armenia for 2016 with two important projects for students. As in previous years, a guest lecture was held for students on the criminology masters programme, which focussed this year on probation services. On 6 and 7 December, the speaker Wolfgang Eichstädter provided an insight into the practical work of probation officers in Germany.

The lecture focussed on discussions with subjects, as well as issues concerning the organisation of the working day. He cited a few examples of cases from his long-standing career as a probation officer in Berlin and held discussions with the participants on dealing with subjects in these situations.

A new law on the probation service entered into force in Armenia a few months ago, introducing fundamental changes to regulations governing the role and tasks of probation officers. These practical insights were therefore of great interest, and not only for the students. A few active probation officers also attended the lecture and took an active part in the open discussions.

The moot court in criminal law, which was held from 8 to 10 December in the Aghveran mountain resort, was of a more competitive nature. Six groups of students from five different universities in Armenia had qualified for the final round in a written competition. They took it in turns to take on the role of Public Prosecutor and the Defence and had to make a convincing case for their arguments in front of a jury of six highly experienced Armenian and German judges and lawyers. From the German side, Erich Joester, a criminal defence lawyer and notary from Bremen, and Jan F. Orth, Presiding Judge at the Regional Court of Cologne, put the rhetorical and strategic abilities of the students to the test with some tricky questions. The team of five from Yerevan State University won the competition but this intense event will be remembered by all the participants as a special highlight of their training. If possible, the IRZ plans to hold the competition again next year.