Soft skills in judicial practice

Participants in the workshop held on 3 November 2023 in Dakar.
Participants in the workshop held on 3 November 2023 in Dakar.

The IRZ and the Judicial College of Senegal (Centre de Formation judiciaire, CFJ), organised a seminar on “soft skills” in the professional practice of judges on 2-3 November 2023. The two-day event took place on the premises of the Judicial College and offered a platform for some lively exchanges between the Senegalese and German attendees.

Soft skills: ethics, integrity, communication and much more

The two days of the seminar focused on soft skills in judicial practice, including communication and analytical skills, empathy, impartiality, teamwork and time management. Participants also discussed the specific issues around dealing with vulnerable groups. El Hadji Babacar Diop, a spokesperson for the Senegalese Ministry of Justice, explained the legal framework within which judges in Senegal operate. Mademba Gueye, General Director of the CFJ, also presented the topic “Integrity in the judicial profession”, which was followed up by Wolfgang Ehm, Vice President of the Regional Court in Halle (Saale) from the German contingent, using the “Bangalore principles of judicial ethics”. Magatte Diop, President of the Civil Court of First Instance in Senegal, described the judicial procedures, and how judgements are drafted. Moustapha Ka, Secretary General and trainer at the CFJ, spoke about the implementation of soft skills in judicial training in Senegal.

A political judiciary?

The second German expert was Yvonne Bach, Presiding Judge at the Administrative Court in Düsseldorf, who spoke, among others, about communication with external actors and representatives of the press. She explained the overlaps between judicial independence and political and religious ideology in Germany. It emerged from the discussion that what would be controversial in Germany would be unthinkable in Senegal.

The direct exchanges in French between the German and Senegalese experts sparked some interesting discussions. Yvonne Bach's lecture on the topic of “empathy” was followed by a longer discussion between the participants on the importance and increasing focus on the ability of judges to express empathy even during their training phase.

The seminar paved the way for further exchanges, which the IRZ and its partner institutions will pursue in 2024.

Workshop on “Asset recovery and asset protection” in Dakar

Speakers, interpreters and employees of ONRAC at the workshop “Asset recovery and asset protection” in Dakar
Speakers, interpreters and employees of ONRAC at the workshop “Asset recovery and asset protection” in Dakar

The IRZ organised a workshop on the subject of “Asset recovery and asset protection - management and realisation of secured and confiscated assets” in cooperation with Senegal's National Office for Asset Recovery (Office national de Recouvrement des Avoirs criminels, ONRAC) from 21-22 November 2022 in Dakar (Senegal).

The workshop focused on an exchange of experiences on securing, managing and realising confiscated assets. Participants discussed the process of securing assets based on the legal framework of asset recovery in Germany and Senegal.

Approx. 30 participants discussed the challenges and opportunities of parallel financial and criminal investigations with the speakers from Germany and Senegal with reference to current practice. How to deal with cryptocurrency aroused particular interest here. Various forms and challenges in the management and exploitation of assets were also addressed.

Speakers at the workshop:

  • Senior Public Prosecutor Andreas Stüve, Düsseldorf Public Prosecutor's Office, centre and contact point for the prosecution of organised crime
  • Christian Veith, former Chief Inspector of the State Criminal Police Office of North Rhine-Westphalia
  • Mor Ndiaye, Director of ONRAC
  • El hadji Allé Birima Fall, Prosecutor, Director of Cooperation at ONRAC
  • Bachirou Sarr, Commissioner, Police Affairs Officer at ONRAC

Further cooperation with the new National Office for Asset Recovery in Senegal, which is subordinate to the Senegalese Ministry of Justice, is planned for 2023 to explore certain aspects of asset recovery in more depth.

Regional conference “Mediation in Africa” in Dakar

Participants in the regional conference in Dakar on the subject of “Mediation in Africa” in cooperation with the GIZ and the BRAK
Participants in the regional conference in Dakar on the subject of “Mediation in Africa” in cooperation with the GIZ and the BRAK

From 10 to 13 May 2022 the German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation (IRZ), together with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the German Federal Bar (BRAK) held a regional conference in Dakar on the subject of “Mediation in Africa”.

The event was embedded in the GIZ’s regional project “Furthering rule of law and justice in Africa”, part of the G-20 initiative “Compact with Africa” for the promotion of private investment in Africa. Last year too, the IRZ worked with the GIZ to organise a regional conference in Dakar within the framework of this regional project.

The aim of the conference was to encourage an exchange of views and experiences between representatives of national legal institutions, practising mediators and public and non-public associations and chambers from different African countries. Participants from northern, southern, western and eastern Africa thus contributed to the strengthening of mediation at a national, regional and African level.

The participating states included Tunisia and Senegal, as well as Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. The conference therefore brought together public and non-public players from the national, regional and African levels and thus supported transnational dialogue for the establishment of mediation as an alternative form of dispute resolution.

Through the talks and subsequent discussions the participants addressed the following discussion topics during the four-day event:

  • The status quo of mediation in Germany and the participating African states
  • Improvements to the legal framework of mediation
  • The role of bar associations in furthering mediation
  • Mediation in business relationships
  • Mediation and peace dialogue
  • Mediation in the relationship between state and citizen
  • Selection, training and further training of mediators
  • National and regional certification programmes for mediators
  • Presentation of a GIZ study on mediation

In recent years, alternative dispute resolution procedures have gained in significance around the world. Increased use of mediation is leading to better access to justice. With the aid of mediation, conflicting parties can reach agreement “on an equal footing”. The procedure is a more cost-effective and faster way to resolve conflicts, eases the workload of ordinary courts and is particularly effective as a way of resolving family conflicts. Women in particular are therefore able to obtain better access to legal remedies.

The lively and intensive discussions during the four-day conference highlighted the great interest in regional networking for the purposes of comparison and working together to promote mediation and a regional exchange of knowledge.

The regional conference was held and partially financed by the IRZ within the framework of institutional funding by the Federal Ministry of Justice.