Participants in the soft skills training session in Tunis
Participants in the soft skills training session in Tunis

On 4 and 5 July 2019, the IRZ, in partnership with the Tunisian Ministry of Justice, organised a training session on personal, social and methodological skills in professional practice. The event was aimed at judges from various regions of Tunisia and was supported by IRZ experts Christian Schmitz-Justen, Vice-President of the Higher Regional Court of Cologne, and Dr. Georg Winkel, Presiding Judge at the Regional Court of Cologne.

On the first day of the seminar, the IRZ experts started by looking in more detail at the requirements for becoming a judge in Germany. In this context, Christian Schmitz-Justen explained the appointment procedure in North Rhine-Westphalia and emphasized the fact that, as well as exam results and expertise, personal suitability is also another crucial factor. The Tunisian participants expressed the wish to make the testing of social skills a job requirement in the Tunisian system as well.

Afterwards, Christian Schmitz-Justen spoke about counselling by colleagues in the justice system in North Rhine-Westphalia and presented the models, levels of effectiveness and benefits of advice from colleagues. He referred to a scientific study, which proves the benefits of this type of advice. It was enriching for the Tunisian participants, not only to learn more about the experiences of advice from colleagues in the North Rhine-Westphalia justice system, but also about the potential for further training for judges in Germany in the areas of personal and social skills.

The second topic addressed during the first day of the training course concerned hearings in civil matters, focussing on court settlements as well as on mediation.

On the second day of the event, Dr. Georg Winkel looked more closely at assessing the evidence of witnesses in criminal proceedings. He started by presenting the principles of giving evidence in German criminal proceedings and went on to discuss with Tunisian colleagues the approach for assessing witness statements. The discussions covered the signs of true or false witness statements, the procedure to follow in the event of contradictory evidence and the credibility of social networks as evidence.

The two-day training session led to intense discussions and animated exchanges. The very active involvement of the participants illustrated the great level of interest in the exchange of experiences between German and Tunisian colleagues.

The training course was held within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding on a working programme for cooperation in 2019 and 2020 between the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and the Tunisian Ministry of Justice.