Online events on probation services and prison management

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ

During the last quarter of 2020, the cooperation between IRZ and the Ministry of Justice of Kosovo concentrated on the areas of probation services and prison management. The main focus was on how the relevant authorities work together to provide probation services, the explanation of the advantages of suspended sentencing with probation, and the specific issues surrounding juvenile detention. IRZ has also succeeded in using the online format to expand on the existing trusting working relationship, which pays particular attention to the area of juvenile criminal law.

In cooperation with the department for probation services and regional probation offices, three separate online round table discussions were held with different participant groups in the regions of Pristina, Prizren and Mitrovica. These events allowed for a broad exchange of experiences and also took the regional particularities in Kosovo into account. The round table discussions covered the following topics, amongst others:

  • the function and role of probation
  • specific features of the application of probation in juvenile criminal law
  • the supervision of probation in practice: cooperation between judges, public prosecutors and probation services

IRZ was represented by the following experts from the relevant professional groups:

  • Alexander Conrad, a judge at the Local Court of Oberhausen
  • Michael Grunwald, a senior public prosecutor at the Berlin Public Prosecutor’s Office
  • Stefan Thier from the department of social services for justice, support for ex-offenders and accommodation offering therapy at the Ministry of Justice, Europe and Consumer Protection for the state of Schleswig-Holstein

This combination of experts led to a comprehensive, detailed and practice-oriented exchange with Kosovan colleagues. 

Online seminars on “young people in the prison system”

At the express request of the department for prison management at the Ministry of Justice of Kosovo, two online seminars were held on “Dealing with young drug addicts” and “Dealing with young people with psychiatric problems”.

Both events were led by an experienced team of experts appointed by IRZ:

  • Katja Liebmann, Head of social therapy at the largest juvenile detention centre in Germany at Hameln,
  • Siegfried Löprick, Chairman of the youth welfare service, Jugendhilfe Göttingen e.V., with many years of experience in working with the prison management system in Kosovo.

Both seminars featured an open exchange involving all participants and lively, comprehensive discussions.

Seminar on “Protective Measures for Minor Victims and Witnesses of Criminal Offences“ in Pristina

During the seminar with Brigitte Koppenhöfer (right at the front), former Presiding Judge at the Regional Court of Düsseldorf, and Dr. Thomas Matusche (on her left), former President of the Local Court of Hann. Münden, and now President of the Law Students Examination Authority (Justizprüfungsamt) for the Lower Saxony region.
During the seminar with Brigitte Koppenhöfer (right at the front), former Presiding Judge at the Regional Court of Düsseldorf, and Dr. Thomas Matusche (on her left), former President of the Local Court of Hann. Münden, and now President of the Law Students Examination Authority (Justizprüfungsamt) for the Lower Saxony region.

On 9 and 10 September 2019 the IRZ, in cooperation with the Kosovo Academy of Justice and UNICEF, organised a two-day seminar on “Protective Measures for Minor Victims and Witnesses of Criminal Offences”. The event enabled an exchange of experiences based on European guidelines and was aimed at making a contribution towards more child-friendliness in the justice system of the Republic of Kosovo. The German speakers at the seminar were:

  • Brigitte Koppenhöfer, former Presiding Judge at the Regional Court of Düsseldorf and
  • Dr. Thomas Matusche, former President of the Local Court of Hann. Münden, and now President of the Law Students Examination Authority (Justizprüfungsamt) for the Lower Saxony region.

The event was aimed at practitioners in the field of the Kosovan juvenile criminal law. The first seminar day was attended by judges and public prosecutors who discussed the following topics:

  • Definition of the term “minor victims and witnesses”;
  • European guidelines;
  • a room for witnesses;
  • exclusion of the public and/or the accused;
  • video hearing;
  • information and participation rights and
  • psychosocial victim support

On the second seminar day, probation officers and members of the youth court assistance service exchanged their experiences, focusing on the following topics:

  • Function of the youth court assistance service/probation service in investigation proceedings and court proceedings involving young people;
  • function in the enforcement of judgements;
  • reports on the social settings;
  • cooperation between the probation service, judges and public prosecutors.

The event met with great interest among the participants. It became apparent that a child-friendly justice system is still a topical and relevant issue. On both seminar days, the participants exchanged their experiences with this topic in working groups and engaged in lively discussions on different suggestions for improvement with the IRZ experts. They identified potentials for practical advancements in the jurisdiction with juvenile victims and witnesses and in the probation service.

The participants had a lively exchange of opinions and were able to extend their expertise in protective measures for minor victims and witnesses of criminal offences, thus gaining many new perspectives on the topic.

Seminar on rights protecting juveniles and legal counsel in Pristina

During the seminar
During the seminar

In collaboration with the Kosovo Bar and UNICEF Kosovo, the IRZ conducted a seminar on rights protecting juveniles and legal counsel representing them at all stages of court proceedings on 11 and 12 July 2019. The event was attended by 25 Kosovar lawyers.

Dr. Toralf Nöding, IRZ expert and lawyer from Berlin, kicked off the seminar with an introductory look at practice in the area of German juvenile criminal law using case studies. He addressed general and specific requirements for legal representation of juvenile delinquents by counsel, the work performed by institutions involved in juvenile criminal proceedings and the effective participation of juveniles. Dr. Nöding also described the underlying educative strategy aimed at changing behaviour in all phases of criminal proceedings: in the arrest procedure, police questioning, possibly pre-trial detention, during court hearings, the pronouncement of sanctions and, possibly, subsequent detention.

A further complex of topics focused on guidelines laid down by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe for a Child-Friendly Justice and their implementation in EU Directive 2016/800. This Directive incorporates the fundamental principles of justice for children and young persons, such as the best interests of the child and protection against discrimination, as well as the rights of young people, ranging from participation in court proceedings to the right to parental assistance. In this context, Dr. Nöding also explored possible problems that may arise in the course of implementation of the Directive. 

The IRZ expert also explained what kinds of communication are in line with the needs of children and adolescents in every phase of the procedure. Finally, he offered the participants some valuable tips in connection with specific situations, drawing on experience from his own legal practice. The seminar was well received by the participants. There was a lively discussion. 

The event was funded by the German Federal Foreign Office as an additional contribution to Kosovo's convergence with EU jurisdiction over the long term.