Seminar in Rabat: Decent treatment of inmates in the Moroccan penal system

During the seminar
During the seminar

On 20 and 21 June 2019, the fourth seminar on "Decent treatment of inmates in the Moroccan penal system" was held in Rabatt. The seminar was organised by the IRZ in cooperation with the "Directorate General for Correctional Service and Resocialisation (DGAPR)". The seminar is part of the project "Cooperation with the Kingdom of Morocco in the Penal System", which is being carried out by the IRZ over the period 2017 to 2020 with funding from the Federal Foreign Office.

The IRZ has received the support of an expert from Tegel Prison in Berlin in the implementation of the seminar: Silvia Cardini, Head of Psychological Service, and Michael Weise, Head of the General Penal Service.

The first day of the seminar included a meeting of the steering committee for all the working groups set up within the framework of the project. After a brief presentation of the project by the IRZ, the participants discussed the content and design of the manual that is to be produced. It is to be drawn up on the basis of Moroccan penal system law as well as applicable international agreements.

During the second day of the seminar, possible ways of preventing violence between prisoners and against prison guard officers were discussed. Two core tasks of the "Directorate General for Correctional Service and Resocialisation (DGAPR)" in Morocco are to ensure security in prisons and adequately prepare prisoners for resocialisation. To achieve these two objectives, the DGAPR applies a security strategy based on two pillars:

  • Material security: technical and infrastructural measures and steps to improve working conditions for staff.
  • Dynamic security: building good relations with inmates and preventing violence by ensuring that inmates are treated with dignity.

In Germany, personal and structural factors are considered to be causes of violence among prisoners. It is for this reason that, in addition to humane accommodation of inmates to facilitate prevention of violence, open prisons are increasingly being used. On top of this, additional preventive measures, e.g. to combat violence and drug use, are being applied. 

In Germany, as in Morocco, an effort is being made to improve working conditions of prison officers by such means as:

  • ensuring a sufficient number of well-trained personnel, 
  • effective support and
  • a range of continuous training courses.

Both countries cooperate closely with external actors from civil society or the public sector in implementing measures to prevent violence along with internal measures taken by prisons themselves, particularly in the areas of initial and continuous training and the treatment of inmates.

With the aim of preventing religiously motivated violence, Morocco has adopted a strategy of helping inmates find peace with themselves, while achieving reconciliation with society and religious texts. In Germany, religious scholars offer group discussions and are in regular contact with inmates at their request. These treatment methods are also part and parcel of efforts to prevent violence. 

There is considerable interest on both sides in a continued exchange of experience and views on these issues.

Seminar on “Governance – communication and planning strategies for prison authorities” in Casablanca

Participants and speakers at the seminar in Casablanca
Participants and speakers at the seminar in Casablanca

In partnership with the General Delegation for the Management of Prisons and Reintegration (DGAPR), the second seminar on “Governance – communication and planning strategies for prison authorities” was held on 24 and 25 April 2019 in Casablanca, Morocco. The seminar is part of the “Cooperation with the Kingdom of Morocco on Prison Management” project, which is being coordinated by the IRZ between 2017 and 2020. The project has the support of the German Federal Foreign Office.

Two experts from the Berlin prison system represented the IRZ at the seminar:

  • Ingo-Uwe Schümann, an adviser in Department III for IT control and digitalisation of the Berlin prison system, and
  • Martin Guder, social education worker and head of prison section at the Tegel prison.
At the start of the seminar, the DGAPR and the IRZ acknowledged the area of prison management as an integral part of their cooperation. Mustapha Rhaddousi, Regional Director of the DGAPR, emphasised the importance of the subject of governance as a basis for further cooperation in this project. Since 2016, the DGAPR has been following a strategy of more intense cooperation with it partners for implementing the reforms in the Moroccan prison system in the light of the new constitution of 2011, which stipulates a decentralised administration at regional and community level.

The regional divisions of the DGAPR base their planning strategy on the law governing the prison system, as well as on other relevant laws and decrees. To ensure the exchange of information with administrative authorities at regional level, the DGAPR, as the controlling body, has set up the department for cooperation with other authorities, the department for general interests and the department of security. To ensure better cooperation, the specifically created specialist departments at community level follow the same structure as the departments of the central administration in Rabat. This also helps to establish the requirements in terms of staff and further training, since the individual levels of administration work closely alongside one another. A central committee made up of representatives of the central and regional administrations works on concepts to improve the quality of further training available.

The German experts presented a model for inspecting prisons as part of the technical supervision provided by representatives of the regional administration of justice. In Germany, a strong culture of trust has developed between government ministries and penal institutions, with the latter benefiting from considerable room for manoeuvre when it comes to implementing laws. The German experts pointed out the significance of developing a culture of allowing for and dealing with mistakes. When it comes to staff planning, the law in Germany does not provide for any fixed care ratio for general law enforcement, contrary to welfare staff and qualified professionals, where the ratio is 1:30. The law allows for the appointment of external parties to carry out duties where necessary. Further training for staff is to a large extent organised on a decentralised basis by staff appointment commissions.

Experts from both countries then went on to present the distribution of responsibilities between parties involved in project management. The strategy for improving the humane treatment of prisoners was developed in Morocco mainly by community and regional administration, with the involvement of the head office. The fact that planning processes and project work flows are essentially similar in Germany and Morocco was made clear thanks to an example from Germany involving the modernisation of the kitchens in the Berlin prison system.

During the lively discussions at the seminar, the Moroccan participants pointed out the difficulties of making a clear distinction between planning and policies, which can lead to security concerns. Successful planning must be carried out objectively and this can be put at risk by the subjective priorities introduced by individual politicians. The German experts pointed out the parliamentary supervision of budget planning required in this respect in Germany, as well as the broad consensus that exists between all parties on security issues in prisons.

The status analysis carried out as part of the seminars will be transformed by the established working groups into recommendations for action and set out in a manual.

Seminar on the “Management of prison staff by the DGAPR” in Rabat

Participants and speakers at the seminar in Rabat
Participants and speakers at the seminar in Rabat

On 10 and 11 April 2019, the IRZ, together with the General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration (DGAPR), organised a seminar in Rabat on “Management of prison staff by the DGAPR”. The event was held as part of the “Cooperation with the Kingdom of Morocco on Prison Management” project, which is being supported by the German Foreign Office and coordinated by the IRZ between 2017 and 2020.

The seminar was organised for the part of the project dealing with improving HR development and staff management in prisons. The aim was to teach modern management methods and present incentive and upgrading systems for prison officers.

The IRZ experts attending the seminar were:

  • Nadine Franasik, Head of health-oriented personnel management at the young offenders’ institution in Berlin, and
  • Kathrin Braun, representing the Berlin Senate Administration for Justice, Consumer Protection and Anti-discrimination. 

The seminar was opened and moderated by the Head of Personnel for the General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration (DGAPR) in Morocco, Radouane Kouta. He presented the latest developments and efforts made by the DGAPR towards the reform of the prison system in Morocco. One of the main priorities of the DGAPR here is to develop a modern staff management system.

The seminar started by addressing the implementation of international standards in the training of prison staff. The main subject of discussion was the consolidation of human rights and alignment with international standards, such as the “Mandela Rules”. Selection criteria and job profiles for qualified staff were also important topics for discussion. 

Efforts are currently being made in Morocco to modernise the entire staff recruitment system for the prison service and therefore to make work in prisons more appealing in general. Intense discussions also took place on the potential professional risks for people working in prisons. These were mainly about security issues in individual prisons and the increased psychological demands on staff through specific stresses involved in everyday prison life, such as overcrowding, violence amongst prisoners and the bribery of staff. The participants in the seminar then went on to discuss HR development and management in prisons. There are plans to introduce measures to improve the quality of staff training and incentives in Moroccan prisons. These include the creation of a committee for the development of selection criteria for prison officers and improvements in the establishment and documentation of the requirements of prison staff (questionnaires). To support reform efforts in the area of staff management, prison authorities will also use external trainers during this development phase.

During the seminar, a lively exchange of experiences took place with animated discussions, during which German experiences of staff management in prisons were presented. Since this subject is currently highly topical, the Moroccan prison authorities have expressed an ongoing requirement to continue these talks, which will be resumed in the autumn.