Conference in Tunis on the prison system

From 18 to 20 January 2016, another conference was held in Tunis to discuss planned reforms of the prison system in Tunisia. The main focus of this conference was on the "Requirements of a modern prison system with regard to construction and social rehabilitation".

The reforms have been supported by the IRZ since the beginning of the cooperation, in close partnership with the Senate Department for Justice and Consumer Protection in Berlin. Experts from the Berlin prison system also took part in this conference. These included Dr. Uwe Meyer-Odewald, Director of the open prison in Berlin, Dr. Anja Schammler, head of department at the Tegel prison facility, Alfred Leszczynski, head of department at the open prison in Berlin, and Jürgen Heitmann, building advisor for the Senate Department for Justice and Consumer Protection in Berlin.

In order to get an insight into the current situation in the Tunisian prison system, the programme for the first day of the conference included visits to two prisons, Burj Ameri and Mornaguia. During presentations and a tour of the prisons, current problems and the measures taken by the prison directors to solve them were explained. This very open insight offered by the Tunisians led to the development of more in-depth discussions and presentations at the conference the next day, as well as talks about definitive ways of finding solutions. The talks focussed in particular on the overcrowding of prison facilities, dealing with detainees who are in prison because of terrorist offences and plans for the reform of the Tunisian prison system. On the third day, these discussions then continued with two workshops dealing with individual aspects concerning the lodging of detainees.

The IRZ will continue to work intensively on its successful and reliable cooperation with Tunisia with regards to its prison system. This includes the launch of a twinning project in January 2016 involving the IRZ.

Fourth international Arab Forum on Asset Recovery in Tunisia

Christian Lange (left), Secretary of State at the BMJV, at the Arab Forum on Asset Recovery in Hammamet, Tunisia (photo: BMJV)Christian Lange (left), Secretary of State at the BMJV, at the Arab Forum on Asset Recovery in Hammamet, Tunisia (photo: BMJV)

The fourth international Arab Forum on Asset Recovery (AFAR) was held in Hammamet (Tunisia) from 8 to 10 December 2015. The IRZ was one of the organisers of this event.

The AFAR was set up as part of a G7 initiative in partnership with Arab Countries in Transition. The objective is to support Arab countries in their efforts to recover assets, which were stolen or misappropriated from former Arab regimes.

Two special sessions are held annually to deal with technical issues concerning the identification and recovery of assets from abroad. The results of these special sessions collected by leading specialists are integrated in a high-level annual conference, during which international efforts at minister and senior official level are followed up and important momentum is generated to continue with the process.

Having already been appointed by and worked closely with the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV) and the German Foreign Office to organise one of these special sessions in Tunis in May, the IRZ then became involved as a co-organiser together with Tunisia and Qatar to prepare for and put on the annual conference.

This year's event was held under Germany's presidency of the G7. Germany was represented at the conference by the parliamentary Secretary of State at the BMJV, Christian Lange (MdB). Also present were the Minister of Justice for Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia and the Prosecutor General for Qatar. In addition to the countries named above, delegations and speakers also attended from Germany, Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Senegal, Saudi Arabia and the USA, the latter represented by the FBI and the State Department. The World Bank's "Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative" (StAR) was also closely involved. Representatives from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were also invited and took an active and critical part in the discussions.

The conference included a political section, during which the attending ministers stressed their continued support for the process and their awareness that the significant amount of misappropriated assets should be used to support the development of the countries concerned, instead of remaining in the hands of white collar criminals.

There were also many discussions on a bilateral level, in which delegations from the various countries made the most of the opportunity to discuss actual cases and remaining barriers to cooperation.

Practical training for Tunisian civil and criminal court judges and public prosecutors at the Regional Court of Cologne and other venues

2015109 Tunesien Praxisaufenthalt Köln

From 29 September to 9 October 2015, the IRZ organised a practical training programme for 15 Tunisian judges and public prosecutors in Bonn and Cologne. For the fourth consecutive year, participants were offered a comprehensive programme to support efforts to implement judicial reform. The main aim of the training programme was for participants to experience everyday legal proceedings in Germany. During the theoretical part of the course in the first week, lecturers (including Mr Selter, a former Prosecutor General and judges at the Regional Court of Cologne) taught participants the basics of the German legal and court system. The subsequent practical part of the course over the following week was of particular interest. During this time, once they had been introduced to the relevant case reports, the Tunisian guests were able to observe civil and criminal hearings at the Regional Court of Cologne. Many discussions on topics such as the independence of the judiciary, streamlining proceedings and judicial administration contributed towards an informative and inspiring exchange for both sides.