Wide-ranging support by the IRZ for the reforms in Macedonia

Detail from a multilateral discussion on constitutional complaints with Prof. Dr. Tansije Marinkovic (left) from Serbia.
Detail from a multilateral discussion on constitutional complaints with Prof. Dr. Tansije Marinkovic (left) from Serbia.

On 17 December 2018 the IRZ, the representative of Macedonia to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the Judicial Academy jointly organised an event in Skopje on the case law of the ECHR. After the welcome address of the German ambassador Thomas Gerberich, the former Macedonian judge in Strasbourg, Dr. Mirjana Lazarova Traijskovska, gave a talk about the analysis of the ECHR case law to date and its consequences with regard to Macedonia. This analysis had been carried out on the occasion of the 20-year membership of the country in the Council of Europe. On the same occasion a further issue of then newsletter on ECHR case law of particular importance for Macedonia was presented. The newsletter is published in Macedonian as well as in the language of the Albanian minority.

As well as Dr. Trajkovska the former President of the Constitutional Court of the Federal State of Saxony-Anhalt, Winfried Schubert, was a speaker at the conference. Together with the publications presented, the talks gave a detailed picture of topics needing to be tackled in the future.

On the following day a workshop, organised in cooperation with the Non-Governmental Organisation “Institute for Democracy”, took place dealing with issues regarding the introduction of constitutional complaints in Macedonia. Valuable input was provided by the experience of the Republic of Serbia in this context, where the IRZ had successfully supported the introduction of constitutional complaints.

These events, as well as the talks held at the Constitutional Court on the same occasion, are part of the IRZ’s activities in the field of human rights. Human rights, as well as the rule of law, are focal points in the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Western Balkans.

Additionally, the professional appraisal of judges according to the German model will be included in the draft of a new court act which will soon be discussed during government consultations. This is based on suggestions by the IRZ. The same applies to several IRZ proposals regarding the drafting of a new administrative procedure act.

Macedonian special prosecution office on a study visit to Berlin

Some of the participants in the Macedonian delegation on the roof terrace of the German Foreign Office with Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva (centre)
Some of the participants in the Macedonian delegation on the roof terrace of the German Foreign Office with Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva (centre)

From 23 to 27 September 2018, the Macedonian special prosecution office was in Berlin to learn about “The criminal investigation process in Germany”. The working visit was organised by the IRZ as part of a project financed by the German Foreign Office. The special prosecution office was set up at the instigation of the EU, after approx. 600,000 phone calls made by at least 20,000 Macedonian citizens had been illegally recorded. The special prosecution office also resolves other criminal investigations involving high-ranking politicians and other officials.

The delegation led by special prosecutor Katica Janeva was made up of six employees from the special prosecution office, who completed an extensive programme. The working visit began with a welcome to the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection by senior government official Dr. Christiane Unland-Schlebes, INT-KOR department, and two expert lectures by regional court judges Dr. Lasse Dinter, department RB2/RB3, and EStA Dr. Frank Böhme, department II A4.

These were followed by other lectures and expert talks by and including (in chronological order):

  • Former Head of Criminal Investigations, Hans-Dieter Hilken,
  • Senior Public Prosecutor Frank Seidel, Frankfurt/Oder,
  • Senior Public Prosecutor Björn Kelpin, Berlin Public Prosecutor’s Office, and
  • Police Chief Superintendent, Frank Pein, Berlin.

Former Senior Public Prosecutor, Ralf Rother, Berlin, was also available for an exchange of thoughts and experiences.

The official Foreign Office representative for South-East Europe, Turkey and the EFTA countries, Ambassador Dr. Christian Hellbach, also welcomed the delegation to the Foreign Office.

Thanks to the speakers’ expertise in a broad range of subjects, as well as their extensive practical experience, the Macedonian guests were able to gain an insight into the criminal investigation process in Germany. They were particularly interested in learning about the fight against corruption, money laundering and asset recovery.

Two examples from the latest German legislation, namely § 299a of the penal code “Corruption in healthcare” and § 73 of the penal code in the version resulting from the law on the reform of the recovery of criminal assets from 2017, were seen by the participants in the delegation de lege ferenda as solutions for Macedonian law.

Since the IRZ is currently having the German penal code (StGB) translated into Macedonian as part of another project, these standards and the translated excerpts from the reasoning of the law will be made available to the Macedonian Ministry of Justice and other disseminators in the country.

The event was also supported by the German Federal Bar, which provided the premises for the expert talks, since the meeting room in the “home of the law”, the headquarters of the Berlin subsidiary of the IRZ, was not available due to ongoing renovation work.

Insight into German legal practice for Macedonian lawyers and public prosecutors

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.