Youssef Bouzakher (left), President of the Supreme Judicial Council, and Hichem Dkhili, IRZ office manager in Tunis
Youssef Bouzakher (left), President of the Supreme Judicial Council, and Hichem Dkhili, IRZ office manager in Tunis

On 14 and 15 March 2019, the IRZ, in partnership with the Tunisian Supreme Judicial Council, organised a seminar on “Justice and the Media”, which was opened by the President of the Supreme Judicial Council, Youssef Bouzakher.

The seminar was organised as part of the project running from 2017 to the end of 2019 to support the judicial reform in Tunisia, which is being supported by the German Foreign Office.

Participating in the seminar were members of the Supreme Judicial Council, journalists and representatives of civil society. 

The main focus of the event was on examining the relationship between the media and legal proceedings and decisions. Since the revolution in Tunisia, judicial developments have been closely followed by the media, with increased reporting on judicial affairs. 

On the first day of the seminar, two German experts, Brigitte Koppenhöfer, a former presiding judge at the Regional Court of Düsseldorf, and Dirk Reuter, deputy press officer at the Ministry of Justice for North-Rhine Westphalia, presented the legal regulations governing relations between the media and justice in Germany, both in theory and with the help of practical examples. 

In their lectures on the first day, Brigitte Koppenhöfer and Dirk Reuter went into detail on the limits imposed on journalists when reporting on the justice system. They paid particular attention to explaining how reciprocal influence can be avoided, whilst at the same time ensuring that information is made available to the general public. 

Dirk Reuter also presented the relevant data protection legislation in Germany. He spoke in particular about how publicity work can be reconciled with data protection regulations. 

The focus of the second day of the seminar was on training press officers and the establishment of a press office at the Supreme Judicial Council in Tunisia. The objective was not only to teach the basic skills involved in press work, but also to present the formal and technical prerequisites for establishing a press office. The participants also learned about the important instruments involved in press work.

The two-day seminar was shaped by extensive contributions from Brigitte Koppenhöfer and Dirk Reuter, who responded in detail to participants’ questions. The specific issues raised provided plenty of room for discussion on both sides. The “Justice and the Media” theme met with a great deal of interest, which was not only reflected in the lively discussions, but also in the proposals for subsequent themes for future events. In this respect, the participants expressed increased requirements in the following areas:

  • Crisis management in the justice system,
  • development of a curriculum for press officers and 
  • development of guidelines for cooperation between the justice system and the media. 

The IRZ will make every effort to address these subjects in detail at a second event in 2019.