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

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.