International conference on “Administrative jurisdiction and election disputes” in Tunis

Participants and speakers at the conference in Tunis
Participants and speakers at the conference in Tunis
Tunisia

On 12 and 13 December 2019, the IRZ, in cooperation with the Tunisian Administrative Court (Tribunal Administratif), the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe and the Arab Union of Administrative Judiciary (Union Arabe de l‘ordre Administratif) organised an international conference on “Administrative jurisdiction and election disputes” in Tunis. The event was held as part of the judicial reform project in Tunisia, which the IRZ coordinated between 2017 and 2019 with the support of the German Foreign Office.

The aim of the conference was to enable a multilateral exchange of experiences on the subject with EU member states and partner countries of the entire MENA region. High-ranking representatives of supreme administrative and constitutional courts from Germany, Egypt, France, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia took part in the event, speaking about the legal framework for election verification processes in their own countries. The conference was opened by the President of the Tunisian parliament. From Germany, Prof. Dr. Christine Langenfeld, a judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court, and Michael Groepper, a former judge at the German Federal Administrative Court, were appointed by the IRZ to take part in the conference.

Prof. Dr. Langenfeld gave a lecture focussing on the legal framework for parliamentary elections in Germany. She also talked about electoral freedom, which should guarantee that the process of political opinion forming remains free and independent. Michael Groepper pointed out that a specific feature of the German legal system is its federal nature. This makes it very different from the centralist system in France, which the Tunisian legal system, for example, has also largely been based on until now. Due to the considerable differences compared with the German system, the lectures provided an interesting basis for discussions.

The Tunisians talked about the latest developments in the legal system and the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections. Overall, they found that both elections were a success and this was also confirmed by election observers from other countries. The positive development of the election process has inspired trust and credibility in civil society. However, Tunisia’s transition to a democratic constitutional state still has major challenges to face. In this respect, the participants discussed the role of the media during election campaigns and the role of civil society, political parties and foreign observers in the monitoring of election campaigns.

The conference continued the ongoing cooperation with the Tunisian Administrative Court and was the follow-up event to a seminar on “Election complaints and the legal evaluation of election results in election disputes”, which the IRZ organised as part of this project alongside the Tunisian Administrative Court on 8 and 9 July 2019 in Tunis. 

Symposium in Berlin on the practice of international legal cooperation in criminal cases

Participants and speakers at the symposium in Berlin
Participants and speakers at the symposium in Berlin
Tunisia

On 9 and 10 December 2019, the IRZ held a symposium on supporting international legal cooperation in criminal cases. This event, which was financed by the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV), was attended by delegations from the IRZ partner countries Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Senegal and Jordan. The Managing Director of the IRZ, Dr. Frauke Bachler, and Dr. Ralf Riegel, Head of the International Criminal Law division at the BMJV, welcomed the participants to the symposium. They were very pleased with the fact that the format allowed expert discussions on the first day, followed on the second day by bilateral talks with delegations from the participating partner states. The partner countries thanked the IRZ and the BMJV for the symposium and underlined their desire for closer cooperation.

Dr. Riegel and his colleague Çiğdem Görmez started by presenting the German perspectives and experiences to the participants. During subsequent discussions, the delegations established the basic similarities with practices in their own countries as far as the legal framework, procedures and responsibilities are concerned. For all the participating countries, international cooperation in criminal cases is based on bilateral and multilateral agreements, international law and national law. In Germany, there are also legally binding treaties from the European Council and the EU.

International legal cooperation in criminal matters focusses mainly on individual cases involving help with enforcement abroad or deportations. Most of the problems arising in partner countries are with the issue of requests for legal assistance and these are mainly due to language difficulties. Requests for assurances from countries, which have been asked for legal assistance by a country, are often an impediment to implementation. Steps must be taken to prevent a person being sentenced more than once for the same crime and, at the same time, a balance needs to be found between the different sentences issued by the countries involved.

Within the framework of bilateral talks with BMJV divisions responsible for international criminal law and international legal cooperation, the delegations expressed their desire to strengthen the cooperation in this area and to find effective solutions for the problems in the relevant countries.

Study trip to Karlsruhe, Hamm and Düsseldorf on the “Integrity of the Constitutional Judge”

Talks with Prof. Dr. Gabriele Britz (centre), a judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court, and Press Officer Dr. Max Schoenthal (2nd from left)
Talks with Prof. Dr. Gabriele Britz (centre), a judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court, and Press Officer Dr. Max Schoenthal (2nd from left)
Tunisia

From 25 to 29 November 2019, the IRZ welcomed a delegation from the Supreme Judicial Council of Tunisia and the “Provisional Authority for the Control of Constitutionality of draft-laws” (IPCCPL) for a five-day study visit on the “Integrity of the constitutional judge”. The event was held as part of the project for judicial reform in Tunisia, which the IRZ is implementing between 2017 and the end of 2019 with the support of the German Foreign Office. The study trip is part of the project component that is supporting the development of the constitutional court in Tunisia. The creation of a constitutional court was set out in the Tunisian constitution of 2014.

The delegation visited the German Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, the Higher Regional Court of Hamm and held talks with representatives of the Ministry of Justice for North Rhine-Westphalia in Düsseldorf. The following people attended meetings with the Tunisian guests:

  • At the German Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe: Prof. Dr. Gabriele Britz, a judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court, and Dr. Max Schoenthal, Press Officer at the court;
  • at the Higher Regional Court of Hamm: Norbert Koster, a judge at the Higher Regional Court, and Martin Brandt, a judge at the Higher Regional Court and Press Officer at the court;
  • at the Ministry of Justice for NRW: Dr. Christian Reitemeier, Chief of Department and Head of the Department of Public Law, Constitutional Law and Department Coordination, Dr. Andreas Klenke, a Higher Administrative Court judge from the same department, and Dirk Reuter, Deputy Press Officer at the Ministry of Justice.

During the study visit, the Tunisian delegation discussed with their German hosts the relations between the media and the public on the one hand, and judges on the other hand. They shed light on the challenges involved in this area of conflict from a variety of perspectives. The main focus of discussions was on how the independence of the judiciary can be maintained in this context and the tasks and responsibilities of press officers at court. They also discussed conflicts, potential ways of providing help and practical discrepancies between judicial and executive authorities.

Since the parliamentary elections held in Tunisia in September and October 2019, the Tunisian government, in particular the Tunisian Ministry of Justice, has been working intensively under the newly elected President without a party, Kais Saied, to set up a workable constitutional court. Once the law on setting up a constitutional court has come into force, the court will be able to formally start work. However, this is being prevented from happening because of the failure of parliament to agree on the appointment of suitable candidates for judges. Until the time when the Tunisian Constitutional Court becomes fully functional, the IRZ is supporting the IPCCPL with specialist expertise. The aim of this project is to support the political and legal institutions of judicial and executive authorities in the implementation of the functions that are embedded in its constitution. In concrete terms, this means that the IRZ plans to continue with the constitutional support it has provided until now. However, more time is still required to achieve these objectives.