“Soft skills for judges” training session in Tunis

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

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.

Training on legislative techniques in Tunis

Participants in the training session with the experts Alexandra Kratz and Dr. Sandra Michel (centre of the photo)
Participants in the training session with the experts Alexandra Kratz and Dr. Sandra Michel (centre of the photo)

On 25 and 26 June 2019, the IRZ organised a seminar on legislative techniques at the request of the Tunisian government. The training seminar was aimed at employees of the legislation department in the Tunisian government. The one-day seminar was carried out on two consecutive days, each day covering the same subjects for two different groups of participants. It took place within the framework of the institutional funding provided by the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV).

On the Tunisian side, the training session was opened and moderated by Head of Department Zouheir Ben Tanfous and Ahmed Jâafar, Head of the Department of Legal Issues and Legislation at the Prime Minister’s office.

The following experts took part on behalf of the IRZ:

  • Alexandra Kratz, Head of the Division for Scrutiny of Legal Provisions, Advice on Linguistic Matters, and General Administrative Law at the BMJV, and
  • Dr. Sandra Michel, Head of the Joint Office of the Committee on Labour, Integration and Social Policy and on Family and Senior Citizen Affairs at the German Bundesrat.

At the start of the seminar, Dr. Sandra Michel gave a lecture on the procedures for developing draft legislation. She set out the requirements for good legislation and explained the process with the various work stages – from the idea to the completed draft.

This was followed by a lecture by Alexandra Kratz on the instruments required for developing good, comprehensible laws. She looked in more detail at the legislative process, legal and language reviews and went on to establish that, without clearly comprehensible laws, there is no good legislation. Alexandra Kratz also presented the various structures involved in Germany, explained the special role of the BMJV and shed light on the process, from the draft for discussion to the announcement, with particular attention paid to the ministerial and parliamentary phase. Dr. Sandra Michel also reported on the practice of regulatory impact analysis in Germany.

It was of great interest to the Tunisian participants to learn more about the tasks, responsibilities and composition of the National Regulatory Control Council. This is an independent body, which has advised the German government with non-binding opinions since 2006. The participants learned a great deal about German expertise since the National Regulatory Control Council was set up.

The training session led to many discussions and animated exchanges. The Tunisian participants seemed very interested and asked a lot of detailed questions. The German experts also learned more about the procedures and structures in Tunisia, leading to plenty of exchanges of experience throughout both days of the event.

Exchange of experiences in Tunis on the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

Participants in the exchange of experiences on the Hague Convention  on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in Tunis
Participants in the exchange of experiences on the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in Tunis
Tunisia

On 29 and 30 April 2019, the IRZ and the Tunisian Ministry of Justice organised an exchange of experiences on the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Tunisia joined the convention in 2017, although the country’s accession has not yet been accepted by any EU member state.

The event is part 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. The exchange of experiences served as a follow-up to the conference on select Conventions of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, which took place in Tunis in 2018.

The experts representing the IRZ were Sabine Brieger, a former judge at the Local Court of Berlin Pankow/Weißensee and a former German liaison magistrate, and Katharina Rodenbach, representing the German Federal Office of Justice and responsible for international child custody, child abduction and the protection of children and adults.

Under the leadership of Prosecutor General Imed Derouiche, Head of the Judicial Service at the Tunisian Ministry of Justice, the German experts discussed with their Tunisian colleagues various aspects concerning the practical application of the Convention in Tunisia’s justice and administrative systems.

Moufida Boughanmi, Prosecutor General and national coordinator for the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction at the Tunisian Ministry of Justice, provided information on the current situation regarding the application of the Convention. In this respect, it was made clear that the implementation of the Convention in national legislation and jurisdiction and the determination of the relevant judicial and official structures continues to present a major challenge. The tenor of the lively discussions, about the responsibility and facilities of the courts for example, was that the national legislation currently in force is not sufficient to meet the requirements of the Hague Convention.

Together with the experts, participants in the conference discussed outstanding issues, clarified terminology, learned about the specific features of trials in accordance with the Convention and discussed procedures with the help of a sample case. The participants concluded that a law on implementation is an urgent and essential next step. This is a prerequisite for establishing repatriation processes in both directions. The lack of a law on implementation also explains why Tunisia’s accession to the Convention has still only been recognised by three member states.

Together with the Hague Conference, the IRZ has provided active support for the process of Tunisia’s accession since 2012 with local advice and expert discussions, and it has continued to offer regular advice since then. The IRZ plans to organise further events on other selected Conventions, such as on the Apostille Convention of 1961.