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Welcome address by Ms Nejiba Rouissi, Advocate-General to the judicial agencies, Ministry of Justice and Human Rights of Tunisia in charge of international matters of family law
Encouraged by the positive experience of last year, the IRZ organised a follow-up conference on "Cross-border Cooperation in Civil and Commercial Matters pursuant to the Hague Conventions" in Tunis on 13 to 14 November 2014 following the conference in Rabat/Morocco in cooperation with the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference.
The event was opened by Ms Nejiba Rouissi, Advocate-General to the judicial agencies, Ministry of Justice and Human Rights of Tunisia in charge of international matters of family law, the Secretary General of the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference, Dr Christophe Bernasconi, and the IRZ's Legal Adviser for North Africa and Middle East, Mr Mohamed Montasser Abidi.
During the two-day conference, approximately 30 participants from the Tunisian judiciary discussed, among other themes, the issues "Electronic Apostille Pilot Program (e-APP)", "Malta Process" and "Cross-frontier Child Protection" pursuant to the Hague Convention" presented by three speakers of the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference.
Several Tunisian speakers furthermore gave presentations on "Cross-border Family Law Disputes" and "Acknowledgement and Enforcement of Foreign Judgements in Tunisia".
The IRZ had also invited a representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain, who reported about the experiences of his country with the electronic apostille procedure.
The conference was another good opportunity for the IRZ to highlight the advantages of a ratification of the Hague Conventions in an open dialogue together with the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference. Taking into account current events, this appears to be very promising since we are pleased to report that Tunisia acceded to the Hague Conference on 4 November 2014.
From left to right: the Representative of the Tunisian Ministry of Justice; Mr S. Sarssar (Chairman of the Independent Election Commission in Tunisia); the Representative of the Tunisian Ministry of Justice, Mr M. Karim Jamoussi; the President of the Administrative Court of Tunis, Mr M.F.Ben Hamed; Mr M. M. Abidi (IRZ)
On 22 and 23 October 2014, the IRZ carried out the event "The Administrative Jurisdiction of Tunisia: Legal Assessment of Electoral Disputes in Election Results" in cooperation with the Tunisian Administrative Court ("Tribunal Administratif") and the Tunisian Ministry of Justice. The conference was organised in the context of the reform of the administrative jurisdiction in Tunisia and the Presidential elections on 23 November 2014.
The event was opened by the Representative of the Tunisian Minister of Justice, Mr Mohamed Karim Jamoussi, the First President of the Administrative Court of Tunis, Mr Mohamed Faouzi Ben Hamed, the Chairman of the Independent Election Commission in Tunisia, Mr Shafiq Sarssar, and the IRZ Legal Adviser for North Africa and the Middle East, Mr Mohamed Montasser Abidi.
The contrasting presentations given during this event by Tunisian judges and their German counterparts (the former Vice-President and Judge at the Federal Administrative Court, Mr Michael Hund, and Professor Dr Volker M. Haug, Ministerialrat, Institute for Economics and Law, University of Stuttgart) revealed both similarities and differences in the legal practice of the two countries. The following intensive discussions provided an important insight into the past and present situation of the Tunisian electoral law beyond the two event days. It was pointed out once more, as already during the previous event in April 2014, that the administrative court rules in Tunisia are going to be reformed. A respective cooperation between the Tunisian Administrative Court and the German Administrative Courts has already been agreed.
In this context, the IRZ will organise an exchange of experts with the Federal Constitutional Court and the Federal Administrative Court covering electoral law issues, among other topics, during the week prior to the commencement of the Presidential elections. Furthermore, it is envisaged to organise further expert seminars in Tunis next year covering relevant constitutional and administrative issues.
In light of the upcoming events (Parliamentary and Presidential elections), the media have taken a lively interest in the expert presentations and there has been extensive coverage of this successful IRZ event.
Experts of the Jordanian and Tunisian prison service
On 16 and 17 June 2014 the IRZ organised an extensive conference on the reform of the prison system in cooperation with the Tunisian Ministry of Justice, Human Rights and Transitional Justice. For two days, some 300 delegates, among them senior officials, members of the judiciary, prison officers and representatives of civil society discussed the progress and drawbacks in the efforts towards a humanisation of imprisonment and a more efficient organisation of the prison system in general. The conference was opened by the Tunisian Minister of Justice, Mr Hafedh Ben Salah, and took place for the second time on the initiative of the IRZ. The event highlighted the state of reforms in a public and hence transparent way and can thus be an impetus for future strategies. Representatives from Algeria, Jordan and Morocco also attended the conference upon invitation of the IRZ and contributed to the reform discussion with their experience from other Arab countries.
From the German side, the Head of Department of the Prison Service at the Senate Administration for the Judiciary and Consumer Protection of Berlin, Dr Gero Meinen, and two of his colleagues reported about the German experience and approaches in this field. The IRZ has been organising a regular exchange between German and Tunisian prison authorities since 2011.