Exchange of experiences in Tunis on the fight against corruption

Participants in the event together with IRZ experts Dr. Helmut Brocke and Jürgen Maurer (photo: Med Ali Mansali / INLUCC)
Participants in the event together with IRZ experts Dr. Helmut Brocke and Jürgen Maurer (photo: Med Ali Mansali / INLUCC)

On 22 and 23 October 2019, the IRZ, together with the Tunisian National Anti-Corruption Authority (INLUCC), organised a two-day exchange of experiences on “Combating Corruption – Mechanisms and Prevention”. This event took place within the framework of the institutional funding provided by the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV).

Whilst Tunisia has already ratified all the relevant international and regional conventions on combating and preventing corruption, this subject continues to be relevant and it affects many areas of society, including politics, public administration, justice, health care and civil society. The exchange of experiences was therefore directed at various professional groups:

  • People working for INLUCC and various ministries,
  • representatives of civil society
  • trade union representatives,
  • scientists and
  • journalists.

The event was opened and moderated by Naima Boulila, Vice-President of INLUCC, and Mahbouba Boulaabi, legal adviser at INLUCC. The IRZ experts taking part in the event were Dr. Helmut Brocke, a lawyer and former Senior District Manager, and Jürgen Maurer, former Vice-President of the Bundeskriminalamt (German Federal Criminal Police Office).

On the first day of the event, the focus was on the issue of fighting corruption and the second day was devoted to preventing corruption. The following topics were discussed, with a view to the situation in Tunisia and Germany:

  • Combating corruption: the legal and institutional framework, shortcomings and implementation problems
  • Preventing corruption: the cornerstones of corruption prevention, legal framework, shortcomings and implementation problems
  • Parties involved in the fight against corruption: the role of civil society
The event led to many discussions and animated exchanges. The diversity of the participants meant that various points of view were put forward and discussed. The Tunisian participants seemed very interested and asked a lot of detailed questions. The German experts also learned more about the structures in Tunisia, leading to intense and wide-ranging exchanges of experiences throughout both days of the event. The event marked the start of a continuing cooperation with INLUCC.

Study visit on the involvement of external parties in the prison system

The Tunisian delegation at the Plötzensee prison
The Tunisian delegation at the Plötzensee prison

During a study visit to Berlin from 16 to 19 July 2019, organised by the IRZ in partnership with the Berlin Senate Administration, directors of Tunisian prisons discussed the “Involvement of businesses in prisons and the adjustment of available training schemes to the needs of the German employment market” with German experts.

During a visit to the Plötzensee prison, the delegation was welcomed by the Head of Training and Qualifications, who informed the Tunisian guests about the training and qualification opportunities in the Berlin prison system. He stressed the legal requirement of prisoners to work, as set out in the law governing the Berlin prison system.

During a subsequent tour, the delegation visited the various training facilities within the prison. The Tunisian guests were particularly interested in the partnership with the private company Booh Outfit, which has its T-shirts printed at the Plötzensee prison. The partnership between a private company and a prison and the legal basis for this were the main topics of conversation at expert talks between the delegation and employees of the Plötzensee prison.

On the second day, there were expert talks followed by a tour of the Tegel prison, with the Head of the Department of Training and Qualifications, Lars Hoffmann. An employee at the German Federal Employment Agency also took part in the discussions. He presented the cooperation between the Agency and the prison. Prisoners in Berlin’s prisons have the possibility of receiving support from the German Federal Employment Agency for training supplied by external parties (e.g. The Helmut Ziegler Foundation). There is also the possibility for prisoners serving a term of less than 3 years to complete training modules, which can then count towards training schemes after release.

The three-day study visit gave the Tunisian prison directors a deeper insight into the German prison system and into the various partnerships with different parties involved in training and qualifications for prisoners. By taking a committed part in discussions and asking their German partners questions, the Tunisian guests made it clear that they want to use the information gained to inspire them to continue to develop the Tunisian prison system.

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

Seminar held in Tunis on the legal treatment of election disputes

Participants in the seminar
Participants in the seminar

On 8 and 9 July 2019, the IRZ in collaboration with the Tunisian Administrative Court organised a seminar entitled "Electoral complaints and the legal assessment of election results in the case of election disputes". The opening address at the event was delivered by the President of the Tunisian Administrative Court, Abdessalem Mehdi Grissia. The seminar in Tunis was designed to address judges of the Tunisian Administrative Court, journalists and academics.

In addition to IRZ expert Dr. Lars Brocker, President of the Constitutional Court of Rhineland-Palatinate and President of the Higher Administrative Court of Rhineland-Palatinate, Presidents of the Chambers of the Tunisian Administrative Court spoke on the role and jurisdiction of administrative courts with respect to electoral law issues.

In his two presentations, Dr. Brocker informed the audience about the powers and authority of judges in election disputes in Germany. Among other things, he drew attention to the fact that election disputes (with the exception of municipal elections) in Germany are decided by the constitutional courts. According to Dr. Brocker, one of the key tasks of judges presiding over such disputes is to ensure that power struggles between political forces are carried out and resolved in a fair manner while at the same time intervening as little as possible.

In addition, Dr. Brocker stressed that the guiding principle in Germany is to ensure stability as the supreme priority. It would be better to have an incorrectly convened parliament, for instance, than to lack a properly functioning legislature. The power vacuum resulting from this would entail risks and pose a threat to the stability of the country.

The Tunisian speakers focused primarily on new developments in the Tunisian legal system since 2011. They stated that the judicial system was still under construction and that the responsibilities of individual courts had not yet been completely clarified. In particular, they noted that there is a need for advice with regard to the review of elections, which in Tunisia is in the charge of the administrative courts. It is still unclear, for example, whether administrative courts may ban political parties.

On the whole, the seminar was marked by numerous discussions and a lively exchange of opinion. The subject was also of particular interest to the Tunisian side, as both parliamentary and presidential elections are scheduled to be held in the autumn of this year, which will constitute an important step in Tunisia's political future.

The seminar was held within the framework of a project promoting judicial reform in Tunisia, which is taking place from 2017 to the end of 2019 with the support of the German Federal Foreign Office.