Higher Regional Court Judge Dr. Tobias Gülich welcomes the participants
Higher Regional Court Judge Dr. Tobias Gülich welcomes the participants

From 13 to 19 May 2018, a group of twelve female judges and public prosecutors from Macedonia was invited by the IRZ to Bonn for a working visit. The visit took place as part of a programme to support young Macedonian legal practitioners, which was made possible by the German Federal Foreign Office. Since most of the exclusively female legal practitioners work in criminal law, the programme focussed mainly on this area. There were also events on the subject of civil law.

The visit began with a one-day event, during which former Senior Public Prosecutor, Manfred Stotz, gave an introduction into German criminal law and in particular criminal procedure law. This was followed by expert talks with Public Prosecutor Stephanie Faßbender at the Public Prosecutor's Office in Bonn, where the group was welcomed by its deputy head, Senior Public Prosecutor Annelie Meinert. The working trip continued with visits to the police headquarters in Bonn and to criminal hearings, during which the above-mentioned subjects were looked at in more detail.

The Macedonian guests were welcomed to the police headquarters in Bonn by Chief Commissioner Ursula Brohl-Sowa. Afterwards, they talked with Head of Criminal Investigations, Martin Göbel, Deputy Director of the Crime Division, and Rainer Bell, Detective Chief Inspector and Director of Crime Division 21, which deals with fighting organised crime. At the Regional Court, they were able to observe a criminal trial directed by the President, Claudia Gelber.

The former President of the Higher Regional Court of Cologne, Johannes Riedel, gave an introduction to civil law, including judicial service law, with a particular focus on official appraisals. This area was looked at in more depth at the Regional Court of Bonn, following a welcome by its Vice-President, Dr. Markus Weber, and the Department Head of Presidential Administration, regional court judge Dr. Tobias Gülich, with a visit to several civil trials, which were directed by the presiding judge, Eva Hoppe.

The programme was rounded off with other appointments, such as a visit to the library at the criminal law institute at the Faculty of Law in Bonn.

The event revealed a number of differences between the approaches in the two countries, which are caused not only by legal regulations but also by country-specific customs and traditions. The civil proceedings were summed up by the participants as follows: “In Germany, the judges work towards settlements and the parties accept this. The judges also point out to each party the shortcomings in their submissions, without giving the impression that the court is prejudiced.”

To increase the sustainability of the working visit, the participants were given a whole range of translations of legislation and other texts on German law, which have been produced over the years as part of the wealth of publications by the IRZ in South-East Europe.

Further written material, which was used during the expert discussions and was met with great interest by the Macedonian guests, will be translated into Macedonian following the working visit. The range of topics encompasses court press releases to a sample agreement between a leading senior public prosecutor’s office and a police headquarters about cooperation in criminal cases.