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.

AFAR Conference in Tunis

On the podium (from left to right): Dr. Franca Fülle, Anne Katharina Zimmermann and Dr. Ralf Riegel, all from the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (from left to right)On the podium (from left to right): Dr. Franca Fülle, Anne Katharina Zimmermann and Dr. Ralf Riegel, all from the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (from left to right)

Working closely with the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV) and the Federal Foreign Office, the IRZ organised a five-day conference as part of the "Arab Forum on Asset Recovery" (AFAR), held in Tunis from 18 to 22 May 2015. AFAR was set up as part of a G7 initiative in partnership with Arab Countries in Transition.

As part of this initiative, an Action Plan on Asset Recovery was agreed in 2012 to support Arab countries in their efforts to recover stolen or misappropriated assets from former Arab regimes. Special sessions are held annually to deal with technical issues concerning the identification and recovery of assets.

The fourth annual meeting took place in Tunisia under Germany's presidency of the G7. Arab delegations represented Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Qatar and Tunisia. The G7 states were represented by Germany, France and Great Britain. Switzerland was also represented.

Plans were developed in close coordination with the World Bank's Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR). The conference focussed in particular on asset tracing, which involves detecting assets that are being held illegally in the states concerned. The results of these "special sessions" will be taken into account at the fourth Arab Forum to be held in November 2015.