Study trip by a delegation to Berlin on the subject of forensic medicine

The Moroccan delegation at its visit to the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV)
The Moroccan delegation at its visit to the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV)

From 10 to 14 June 2019 the IRZ received a Moroccan delegation in Berlin within the framework of a study trip focusing on the topic of "avenues to successful cooperation between the judiciary and forensic medicine". The study trip was part of the project "Cooperation with the Kingdom of Morocco in the Field of Forensic Medicine with Special Attention to the Needs of the Moroccan Judiciary", which IRZ has been staging over the period 2017 to 2019 with the support of the Federal Foreign Office (Transformation Partnerships with North Africa/Middle East). Objectives of the project include:

Fostering independent forensic medicine in Morocco through training and further education of forensic doctors,

Support for Moroccan partners in the development of a professional code of conduct,

Improving cooperation between the judiciary and forensic medicine through the further training of judges and public prosecutors in the field of forensic medicine.

The first expert discussion took place at the public prosecutor's office in Berlin, where the importance of forensic medicine and forensic scientists at the scene of the crime was explored. In addition, the participants discussed with their hosts difficulties they face evaluating forensic medical reports and questions relating to who is to pay the costs for DNA examinations. At the meeting with the Berlin State Office of Criminal Investigations, the main topics of discussion were cooperation between the Homicide Commission, the public prosecutor's office and forensic medicine, and the importance of prioritising traces of evidence at the scene of the crime. Communication between the public prosecutor's office, forensic medicine and the police is of tremendous importance to the success of an investigative procedure. 

During the visit to the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV), the focus was on the importance of legal medical expertises in proceedings. How to handle expert opinions continues to pose a challenge to judges, especially with regard to the technical language used. For this reason, hearing the forensic scientist acting in an expert capacity before a court is a relevant issue. He or she can also answer questions to help understand the expert opinion. 

The discussion at Charité commenced with a presentation on the possibilities offered by forensic medicine and its significance for the judiciary. Another point of discussion concerned the funding of forensic scientists. After this, the Moroccan guests were given a guided tour through the departments of the institute, including the autopsy room.

During this study trip, the ten Moroccan participants had the opportunity to benefit from German expertise. They were actively involved in all discussions and spoke very openly about current problems facing forensic medicine in Morocco.

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.