REPORT ON THE EXCHANGE AND SUMMARY

European Judicial Training Network Exchange Programme for Judicial Authorities REPORT ON THE EXCHANGE AND SUMMARY Instructions: 1. The report must be...
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European Judicial Training Network Exchange Programme for Judicial Authorities

REPORT ON THE EXCHANGE AND SUMMARY Instructions: 1. The report must be sent to the EJTN ([email protected]) within one month after the exchange. 2. Please use the template below to write your report (recommended length: 4 pages). 3. Please write in English or French. Should this not be possible, the report can be written in another language but the summary must be in English or French. 4. Please read the guidelines for drafting the report (in Annex). Feel free to add any other relevant information in your report. 5. The summary shall contain a synthesis of the most important information of the report. 6. Please note that NO NAMES, neither yours nor the ones of the persons you met during your exchange, should appear in the report in order to ensure anonymity1. Initials can be used when necessary.

Identification of the participant Name: First name: Nationality: German Country of exchange: Finland

Publication For dissemination purposes and as information for future participants in the Programme please take note that, unless you indicate otherwise, EJTN may publish your report in its website. In this case the report will remain anonymous and your name and surname will not appear. To this aim, please do not mention any names in the reports. Initials can be used instead. Please tick this box if you do not wish for your report to be published

For completion by EJTN staff only Publication reference:

1

To that purpose, the first page of this report will be taken out before any possible publication Réseau Européen de Formation Judiciaire/European Judicial Training Network (aisbl) Rue du Luxembourg 16B, B-1000 Bruxelles; Tel: +32 2 280 22 42; Fax: + 32 2 280 22 36; E-mail: [email protected]

With the support of the European Union

For completion by EJTN staff only Publication reference:

Identification of the participant Nationality: German Functions: Judge Length of service: 7 years

Identification of the exchange Hosting jurisdiction/institution: District Court City: Helsinki Country: Finland Dates of the exchange: 15.10.-26.10.2012 Type of exchange: one to one exchange

group exchange

general exchange

specialized exchange (please specify :

)

REPORT I. Programme of the exchange After being welcomed by our tutor in the lobby of the Helsinki District Court, the exchange judges were invited to a meeting with some officials of the Court, notably the Chief District Judge. In a very friendly atmosphere, we introduced us to each other. The exchange judges came from Austria, Spain, Hungary and Germany. In a short presentation we got to know the organisation, the court house itself, the Finnish legal system in general etc. After a lively discussion we got the keys to our offices and the court house and met a Trainee District Judge for lunch. In the afternoon he accompanied us to the Helsinki Police Department, Organised Crime Unit, Pasilanraitio 13, 00240 Helsinki, where we met the exchange prosecutors from the Netherlands and Estonia. In a very informative presentation we learned about some severe cases of organised crime in Helsinki, a case of a Cannonball shooting and cases of prostitution and procuration. There was a very interesting discussion about working methods in our different countries and about the role of the prosecutors in the pre-trial investigation. The next day, we met again in the court house and received a presentation of the registry office of the court and the archives. After that there was a sort of "Sightseeing tour" in the Court House showing all the facilities and court rooms.

With the support of the European Union

European Judicial Training Network Exchange Programme for Judicial Authorities

On Wednesday we were invited to attend some court hearings, accompanied by an interpreter as the hearings were held in Finnish. First we attended a coercive measures court session. Instead of being brought to court, the defendant was connected via video link from prison. A very modern way to deal with coercive measures. After lunch we could attend a main hearing in criminal cases (assault/violence against women). Again it was very interesting to see the exercise of Finnish criminal law in practice. After the main hearing we had the opportunity to discuss the case in particular and sexual crimes in general with the chairwoman, helping us to understand the criminal procedures in Finland. After that we had a meeting in the National Bureau of Investigation headquarters, in Vantaa. Accompanied by a Trainee Judge it was only a short train ride to Vantaa. There, high-ranking investigators presented not only the work and organisation of the National Bureau of Investigation but also some cases to see the investigation work in practice. We were briefed about the investigation of drug smuggler routes from the Netherlands to Finland as well as an investigation about the genocide in Ruanda which required Finnish officers to investigate in Ruanda for several years. The last official part of the programme for the first week was a preliminary and main hearing in the court house. Another Trainee Judge helped us to translate the issues discussed in court. The case dealt with an elderly man who was to be put under guardianship. After the session we had an interesting discussion with the Chairwoman about civil cases in Finland. Later that day we met in the meeting room of the court house for an informal get-together with the Management Group and all the district and trainee judges that took care about us during the week. While having buffet all the exchange judges presented their experiences of the first week. A lively discussion about the differences, but also the many similarities in the juridical system of our countries developed. After a weekend with no fixed programme we met again on Monday for a visit to the Ministry of Justice. Already during lunch we had an open debate about the equipment of the courts in our home coutntries compared to Finland. Later there was a presentation about the work and organisation of the ministry and about the legal aid system in Finland. The next day we had a visit to the Parliamentary Ombudsman’s Office, hosted by one of the Legal Advisers. The Ombudsman is an institution of Finland, which is quite similar to the petition committee in Germany. We were quite surprised about the many different questions, the Ombudsman has to deal with, especially concerning human rights. On Wednesday we met very early (around 7 am) at the Länseterminali/West Harbour of Helsinki to start our trip to Estonia. Our group was accompanied by the Chief Judge, our tutor, a prosecutors training manager and the liaison magistrate. On board of the Tallink ship we had a breakfast buffet altogether while discussing the programme for the 3-day-visit. In Tallinn, a minibus waited for us. To Jõhvi it was a two-hour-drive. Our Estonian host awaited us at the Court House in Jõhvi, where we got a short visit to the court rooms and met some Estonian colleagues. After that, we had a visit to the Viru Prison. It is the most modern prison in Estonia and actually quite well-equipped. We even had the opportunity to see some rooms and facilities used by the prisoners. Then we drove to Narva, a city close to the Russian border. Here we got a short tour through the court house as well. Everyone working here needs Russian language skills as about 97% of the Narva inhabitants speak Russian as their mother tongue. From a memorial nearby we had an excellent view to the border which actually is only a bridge over the river narva with an Estonian and a Russian castle facing each other. The night we stayed in Narva-Jõesuu, at the Meresuu Spa & Hotel, and had dinner together at the hotel restaurant. The next morning we took the minibus to Jõhvi again where we had the opportunity to attend a criminal court session. Later, we visited the Prosecutors Office in Jõhvi and had a nice discussion with the two prosecutors, before we visited the Eastern Police Department, where we got a presentation on internet investigation. That night, we stayed in Rakvere, at the Aqva-Spa Hotel. After some free time which I used

With the support of the European Union

European Judicial Training Network Exchange Programme for Judicial Authorities

as an opportunity to walk up to the very beautiful Rakvere castle, we had a great dinner together with our Estonian host. Once again we had a very interesting debate during dinner. On our last day, the winter started in Estonia. After check-out we had a visit to the Viru District Court and the Court House in Rakvere, afterwards we met the Mayor of Rakvere who showed a nice presentation about the city and its surroundings. Due to the severe weather conditions, we skipped lunch and drove directly to Tallinn, where we met a District Judge of the District Court in Tallinn. He presented us very interesting information about civil cases and about how to become a judge in Estonia. Subsequently there was some free time to have a walk through the Old Town of Tallinn, yet, as a real snowstorm raged over the city we only managed to get some drinks in a medieval guesthouse. In the evening, we met at the harbour and took the ferry back to Tallinn. On the boat we made the summary and closing of the excursion. II. The hosting institution The Helsinki District Court is the entry court for all affairs concerning civil and criminal law for the city of Helsinki. It is in a quite modern building, a former alcohol factory. There is a big atrium within the building and all the bureaus are arranged around the atrium which means that anyone can see his colleague working. The facilities of the court house are impressive as it is the only court house in Helsinki serving some 600.000 inhabitants. The standard of all the facilities, court rooms, offices, media equipment and even leisure facilities e. g. a sauna and a gym is very high. The Chief District Judge is the highest member of the court, which has a budget of his own to spend. The other District Judges are working independently but the Chief District Judge has the possibility to decide who of the District Judges has to deal with criminal or civil cases. There are also several trainee judges which serve a 1-year training programme. After that year they normally return to their original working places e.g. law firms or employers organisations but are entitled to apply for the position of District Judge after some more years of practical working experience. The decisions of the Helsinki District Court can normally be appealed. There are several district courts in Finland, yet the number is decreasing due to cost reduction. The District Court is the only entry court in criminal and civil matters whereas in Germany there is a difference between district courts (so called "Landgericht") and small district courts (so called "Amtsgericht"). While the district court in Germany deals with civil matters from 5.000 € and more and in criminal affairs with some more severe crimes with expected penalties of more than 4 years imprisonment, the small district court deals with minor offences, civil matters under 5.000,- €, family affairs and guardianship. III. The law of the host country As I am mostly dealing with family affairs I was very interested in family cases and cases of guardianship. The procedure in family cases such as custody matters was quite similar to the hearings in Germany, yet the child will not be heard by the judge, but is represented by a person from the child welfare which seems to have a more important role in the Finnish system than in Germany. While in Germany the child welfare is often a party in the cases, in Finland it is part of the juridical system. The work of the child welfare authorities is therefore not directly controlled in court but will be controlled by the Ombudsman whom you can write if you have any complaints concerning your civil rights. The cases of guardianship are dealt almost like other civil procedures with the parties posing claims and the judge deciding at a special announcement date. Though in other cases the judge might go to the nursing home hearing the persons who will be put under guardianship in their own surroundings, the investigation of the case seems not to be done on the authorities own motion but on the claim of one of the parties. What very much surprised me was the fact, that in cases when a person shall be put into a clinic due to psychiatric problems, in Finland the doctor himself can decide about it and the person can only appeal to the decision to the administrative court. In Germany, nobody can be placed in a psychiatric clinic for more than 24 hours if not the judge personally hears the person and decides about it. So the court has even a special weekend service for dealing with cases like this.

With the support of the European Union

European Judicial Training Network Exchange Programme for Judicial Authorities

IV. The comparative law aspect One of the most relevant differences is the number of judges compared to the population. In Germany there are nearly four times more judges according to 10.000 inhabitants than in Finland. While the criminal statistics are quite similar, we have much more civil cases and nearly triple as much family cases per inhabitant to deal with. Yet, the enormous difference in the number of judges means the Finnish juridical system must work much more effective than in Germany. As I have learned, the judges in the Finnish District Court very rarely act as part of a bigger chamber while in Germany at the district courts there often are chambers of 2 to 3 judges to conduct a criminal hearing and to decide the case. A Finnish judge is far less involved in organisation work than judges in Germany, moreover the equipment, especially the video equipment, is much more modern. In Estonia, the system has even been better, every written file is digitalized and all the judges get a key code to enter the computer system from home. In the years to come, Germany will surely develop a similar system, yet I assume this will take years. Another difference is the lack of a constitutional court, which leads to the much more important role of the Ombudsman while the petition committee in Germany is of minor importance. A big difference is the legal aid system because in Finland there are special legal aid lawyers which take cases when the party has claimed for legal aid. In Germany the party itself has to find a lawyer which then will get paid by the state. While legal aid lawyers in Finland get a fixed salary and are more or less civil servants, the lawyers in Germany get a fixed sum per case when taking legal aid cases. In addition, in Germany the judge has to decide whether a party is entitled to get legal aid while in Finland there is a special legal aid office as part of the administration. Concerning criminal procedures, the fact that the defendant is not allowed to talk to his lawyer during sessions is another difference to the law in Germany. In Finland, the defendant has to ask for an interruption to talk to his lawyer. Therefore the defendant often stays in prison during the trial and will be connected to the court via video link. This would be impossible in Germany at the moment, but seems to me quite modern and cost efficient. Concerning coercive matters, in Finland the police leads the investigation and not, like in most other European countries, the prosecutor or - as in Spain - a judge. V. The European aspect During our visit of the Ombudsman’s Office we could see how the aspect of human rights and the decisions of the European court are implemented in Finland. The Ombudsman controls and overviews the legality of all acts of administrative and juridical institutions such as acts by the police, the legal aid office, prisons or the court. He acts in response to complaints but also carries out investigations on his own initiative. He especially overviews the exercise of human rights and European directives. VI. The benefits of the exchange To me the exchange programme provides an excellent possibility to learn about the law system but also about the mentality of another country. In my case the programme was exercised by our hosts absolute perfectly. The benefits were extraordinary, especially as I had the opportunity to learn about two different systems, the Finnish and the Estonian one. Another big benefit has been the lively discussions with our hosts but also the other exchange participators. I will surely be able to use my experiences in my juridical practice, especially as in family law I often have cases in reference to foreign countries and in cases of divorce I even have to exercise the law of foreign countries if both parties have a foreign nationality. My colleagues will surely benefit from my experiences as well.

With the support of the European Union

European Judicial Training Network Exchange Programme for Judicial Authorities

SUMMARY The two week exchange programme gave us a good overview of the juridical system in Finland as well as in Estonia. We learned about civil and criminal procedures, about the work of the ministry of justice and the police and about the juridical organisation. A main difference is surely the much more efficient organisation in Finland and Estonia with much less judges and courts per inhabitant compared to Germany, but a very modern und high level of technical equipment and resources. Another big difference is the role of the police which leads the pre-trial-investigation while this is done by a prosecutor in Germany. Very different is the handling of cases in which a person has to be sent to a psychiatric hospital. In Finland it is the doctor resp. the clinic who decides while in Germany a judge personally has to examine and hear the person or it has to be released. A big challenge seemed to be the handling with two official languages, Finnish and Swedish, and in Estonia, Estonian and Russian. Though Russian is not an official language in Estonia, as in some parts 97% of the population speaks Russian the task to deal with the language in the juridical practice is important. Yet, despite all differences the exchange programme showed that all the different historical grounds and juridical systems are constantly growing together in most of the relevant parts, especially human rights and the right to a fair trial. The independence of the judges is strictly ensured in every European country and the standards of procedures are equally high. By this experience, my trust in the juridical system of the other European countries has grown strong. I now feel that we all belong together in the European Union and should work even closer together in the years to come. Joint investigations and trials might be the future and I hope that many other colleagues will use the opportunity to learn about our neighbours and friends in the other European countries. What I want to point out is the warmth, friendliness and commitment of our hosts and colleagues both in Finland and Estonia. Everyone was more than willing to help us with questions and applications but also with daily problems. This showed me that no one should fear to work together with foreign colleagues and to professionally communicate in a foreign language, and I will recommend the exchange programme to any colleague willing to make his or her own experiences.

With the support of the European Union

European Judicial Training Network Exchange Programme for Judicial Authorities

ANNEX GUIDELINES FOR DRAFTING THE REPORT I- Programme of the exchange Institutions you have visited, hearings, seminars/conferences you have attended, judges/prosecutors and other judicial staff you have met… The aim here is not to detail each of the activities but to give an overview of the contents of the exchange. If you have received a programme from the hosting institution, please provide a copy.

II- The hosting institution Brief description of the hosting institution, its role within the court organisation of the host country, how it is functioning…

III- The law of the host country With regard to the activities you took part in during the exchange, please develop one aspect of the host country’s national law that you were particularly interested in.

IV-The comparative law aspect in your exchange What main similarities and differences could you observe between your own country and your host country in terms of organisation and judicial practice, substantial law..? Please develop.

V- The European aspect of your exchange Did you have the opportunity to observe the implementation or references to Community instruments, the European Convention of Human Rights, judicial cooperation instruments? Please develop.

VI-The benefits of the exchange What were the benefits of your exchange? How can these benefits be useful in your judicial practice? Do you think your colleagues could benefit of the knowledge you acquired during your exchange? How? VII- Suggestions In your opinion, what aspects of the Exchange Programme could be improved? How?

With the support of the European Union

European Judicial Training Network Exchange Programme for Judicial Authorities

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