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.

“Justice and the Media” seminar in Tunis

Youssef Bouzakher (left), President of the Supreme Judicial Council, and Hichem Dkhili, IRZ office manager in Tunis
Youssef Bouzakher (left), President of the Supreme Judicial Council, and Hichem Dkhili, IRZ office manager in Tunis
Tunisia

On 14 and 15 March 2019, the IRZ, in partnership with the Tunisian Supreme Judicial Council, organised a seminar on “Justice and the Media”, which was opened by the President of the Supreme Judicial Council, Youssef Bouzakher.

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

Participating in the seminar were members of the Supreme Judicial Council, journalists and representatives of civil society. 

The main focus of the event was on examining the relationship between the media and legal proceedings and decisions. Since the revolution in Tunisia, judicial developments have been closely followed by the media, with increased reporting on judicial affairs. 

On the first day of the seminar, two German experts, Brigitte Koppenhöfer, a former presiding judge at the Regional Court of Düsseldorf, and Dirk Reuter, deputy press officer at the Ministry of Justice for North-Rhine Westphalia, presented the legal regulations governing relations between the media and justice in Germany, both in theory and with the help of practical examples. 

In their lectures on the first day, Brigitte Koppenhöfer and Dirk Reuter went into detail on the limits imposed on journalists when reporting on the justice system. They paid particular attention to explaining how reciprocal influence can be avoided, whilst at the same time ensuring that information is made available to the general public. 

Dirk Reuter also presented the relevant data protection legislation in Germany. He spoke in particular about how publicity work can be reconciled with data protection regulations. 

The focus of the second day of the seminar was on training press officers and the establishment of a press office at the Supreme Judicial Council in Tunisia. The objective was not only to teach the basic skills involved in press work, but also to present the formal and technical prerequisites for establishing a press office. The participants also learned about the important instruments involved in press work.

The two-day seminar was shaped by extensive contributions from Brigitte Koppenhöfer and Dirk Reuter, who responded in detail to participants’ questions. The specific issues raised provided plenty of room for discussion on both sides. The “Justice and the Media” theme met with a great deal of interest, which was not only reflected in the lively discussions, but also in the proposals for subsequent themes for future events. In this respect, the participants expressed increased requirements in the following areas:

  • Crisis management in the justice system,
  • development of a curriculum for press officers and 
  • development of guidelines for cooperation between the justice system and the media. 

The IRZ will make every effort to address these subjects in detail at a second event in 2019.

Tunisian delegation visits Munich to learn about patent and antitrust law

The Tunisian delegation visits the German Federal Patent Court
The Tunisian delegation visits the German Federal Patent Court
Tunisia

From 3 to 6 December 2018, the IRZ organised a study visit on “German practice in patent and antitrust law proceedings” in Munich for ten representatives of the Tunisian Cartel Office. The trip took place within the framework of the institutional funding provided by the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV).

The representatives of the Tunisian Cartel Office were able to find out about the tasks, operations and current legislation of the corresponding German authorities and courts, so that they could work out any potential points of reference for the reforms in Tunisia. The delegation was led by the second Vice-President of the Tunisian Cartel Office and was made up predominantly of reporting judges from the Tunisian Cartel Office.

The multi-day study visit began with expert discussions with the Head of the Cartel Office of Bavaria, who used various case examples to illustrate the Office’s tasks and activities and explained the differences between the federal and the federal state cartel offices. This was followed by practice-oriented expert discussions with four judges from the Higher Regional Court of Munich. The German speakers presented the current legislation in detail, using the so-called rail cartel as an example, and gave the Tunisian judges the opportunity to report on their own practices.

On the following day of the working visit, the focus was on patent law proceedings, with a visit to the German Federal Patent Court and to the Regional Court of Munich I. During talks with a judge at the German Federal Patent Court, the Tunisian delegation not only learned more about the history, role and responsibilities of the court, but also about its judicial practices. A special highlight of the visit was a visit to a digital courtroom. This was followed by talks with two judges from the Regional Court of Munich I. The Tunisian delegation showed a particular interest in mediation processes. The two German judges, on the other hand, were also able to learn about the everyday practices of their Tunisian colleagues.

The study visit featured lively discussions between the Tunisian guests and their hosts. Since reforms in the fields of patent and antitrust law are planned in Tunisia, many questions came up with regard to the potential for reform and the implementation of new structures and processes. The practical explanations provided by the German parties in the discussions provided some important ideas and momentum for the imminent reform efforts.