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

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ
Morocco / Tunisia

Because of the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic in particular, more attention is being paid to the subject of digitalisation in many areas of our lives and work. It is currently also the subject of much discussion in the justice system, where there are calls for accelerating and intensifying the digitalisation process. In this context, IRZ organised an exchange of experiences on 12 November 2020.

The online seminar, which was aimed at around 40 participants from the Moroccan and Tunisian justice systems, was carried out in partnership with the Moroccan Ministry of Justice and financed by the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV).

It continued the series of events on this subject with other IRZ partner states in Africa and served as an introduction to the complex subject of the “digitalisation of the justice system”. In view of the current crisis, the online seminar was designed to pay particular consideration to the electronic justice system and covered the following three main points:

  • electronic justice system and e-Justice,
  • electronic mailbox and remote hearings and
  • data security.

The international nature of the seminar made it possible for the participants to discuss and compare points of view and experiences on these three subjects from Germany, Morocco and Tunisia. Despite different approaches between the countries, the experts and participants were nevertheless able to identify many of the same problems.

The following were appointed by IRZ to take part in the discussions:

  • Yvonne Bach, Presiding Judge at the Administrative Court of Düsseldorf
  • Dr. Lars Bierschenk, a judge at the Regional Court of Bonn
  • Hatem Rouatbi, a lawyer, university professor and director of the “Dispute Resolution and Enforcement Methods” research laboratory at the Faculty of Law and Political Sciences of the University of Tunis-El Manar.

The Moroccan speakers at the online seminar came from the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Judicial Council, the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration (DGAPR).

During the seminar, it became clear that all those involved see the digitalisation of the justice system as an opportunity and the participants agreed that the process should be accelerated. They see digital processes as an absolutely essential part of a modern justice system and believe that it is important to ensure that all those involved have access to digitalisation. In this respect, the constitutional guarantee was discussed with a view to court proceedings, with the main focus being on fundamental procedural rights.

The online seminar was the first in a series of events. The lively discussions between academics and practising legal experts and the involvement of several institutions underlined the highly topical and multifaceted nature of this subject. There was a remarkably high level of interest in this event.

There are plans to continue and intensify the cooperation to increase electronic communication in the Moroccan justice system and in other partner countries in this project.

Online exchange of experiences on “Alternative Forms of Punishment and Alternatives to Pre-trial Custody”

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ

On 30 September 2020, IRZ organised expert discussions on alternative forms of punishment and alternatives to pre-trial custody, in partnership with the Senior Public Prosecution Office in Morocco. The online event, which was aimed at around 40 participants from the Moroccan Senior Public Prosecution Office, was financed as part of the institutional partnership by the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV).

The IRZ experts taking part in the exchange of experiences were Pascal Décarpes, International Consultant on Prison Management, and Andreas Stüve, Senior Public Prosecutor at the Düsseldorf Public Prosecutor’s Office. Leading the event on behalf of the Moroccan Public Senior Prosecution Office were Mohamed Oukhlifa, Head of the Department for International Technical Cooperation, and Mourad Alami, Head of the Department for the Implementation of the Penal Policy.

The Senior Public Prosecution Office in Morocco, which has been operating as an independent institution since 2017, is facing some major challenges. These include, for example, excessive numbers of people remanded in custody. The high number of prisoners on remand is partly due to a lack of alternatives to imprisonment. Against this backdrop, the opening event with the Moroccan Public Prosecutor’s Office was devoted to the topic of alternative forms of punishment and alternatives to pre-trial custody.

The IRZ experts began by presenting the German criminal justice system, focussing on:

  • general penal provisions
  • efficiency in the penal system
  • prison terms
  • limiting pre-trial custody

The Moroccan experts then went on to report on their experiences relating to penal policy and alternatives to pre-trial custody. They went into more detail on the challenges involved in the prosecution and sentencing of offences, including the enforcement of pre-trial and prison sentences. Their German colleagues also contributed their own experiences on this complex of subjects. The Moroccan participants showed a great deal of interest in the German models for the relaxation of imprisonment conditions and suspended sentencing, support for offenders and alternatives to pre-trial custody. This was also clear from the lively discussions that took place after the exchange of experiences. To conclude, the online exchange of experiences was productive and constructive. The participants’ committed involvement underlined the current need for an exchange of experiences on this subject. The Moroccan partners expressed their wish for further opportunities to discuss these issues. IRZ therefore plans to continue the cooperation with the Moroccan Senior Public Prosecution Office in future.

Two seminars on prison management issues held in Marrakesh and Tangier

Participants and speakers at the seminar on “The humane treatment of prisoners in Moroccan prisoners” in Tangier
Participants and speakers at the seminar on “The humane treatment of prisoners in Moroccan prisoners” in Tangier

As part of the “Cooperation with the Kingdom of Morocco on Prison Management” project, the IRZ organised two seminars, which took place from 3 to 6 March 2020 in Marrakesh and from 10 to 11 March 2020 in Tangier. The project is being supported by the German Federal Foreign Office and has been managed by the IRZ in close cooperation with the Moroccan General Delegation for Prison Administration and Reintegration (DGAPR) since 2017. The main objectives of the project are to protect human rights and guarantee the respect of these rights in the prison system. As a result of the partnership between DGAPR and IRZ, a handbook will be produced outlining the main subjects of prison management, including the rights and obligations of prisoners and the structure of reintegration measures. As far as the implementation of the planned reforms in the prison system is concerned, the main challenges faced by DGAPR in Morocco at present include the insufficient general financial situation and low salaries for all those working in the prison system.

The project is taking a regional approach to allow as many as possible DGAPR officials from the different regions of Morocco to take part in the events. The seminar on “Professional, vocational and artistic training for prisoners” was therefore held in Marrakesh, whilst the seminar on the “Humane treatment of prisoners in Moroccan prisons” took place in Tangier.

Seminar on “Professional, vocational and artistic training for prisoners” in Marrakesh

This seminar was attended by IRZ experts Katja Adolph, Head of Employment and Qualification at the Berlin young offenders’ institution, and Nicole Wolter, Head of Gardening at the same institution. The seminar provided support for DGAPR’s main reform steps in the implementation of their strategy for the reintegration of prisoners. This should lead to prisoners being provided with support for their reintegration through professional training and education. These training opportunities should enhance the capacities of prisoners to get a job after their release from prison. First of all, prisoners need to be classified and diagnosed individually to establish the actual requirements for training and education. Of course, the needs of the employment market also need to be taken into account, for example by using IT resources. Ideally, these should be the main focus of topical and future-oriented training and education measures in prisons. Prisons should work closely with external representatives of civil society and with the public sector when developing the training measures and to ensure that the qualifications achieved are recognised.

Seminar on the “Humane treatment of prisoners in Moroccan prisons” in Tangier

The experts speaking at this seminar were Dr. Angelika Burghardt-Kühne, a qualified psychologist working at the JVA Heidering prison, and Mike Jahncke, Head of Law Enforcement at the Plötzensee prison. As part of a series of events (Seminar in Tétouan on human rights standards in prisons), the seminar dealt with the psychotherapeutic care of prisoners. To improve this kind of care, special areas should be set up in the penal institutions. The objective here should be to provide vulnerable and high-risk prisoners with suitable professional support and to ensure that humane treatment for these special groups is maintained after they are transferred to normal prison areas. During the seminar, Dr. Angelika Burghardt-Kühne emphasised the importance of providing prison officers with regular further training, focussing in particular on those prisoners with mental illnesses. She said that it was extremely important to diagnose the behaviour of prisoners as early as possible. That’s also why the drill for emergency situations should be a central component of the training for law enforcement officers in general.