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France, Jordan collaborate to uphold judicial reform

By Camille Dupire - Mar 21,2018 - Last updated at Mar 21,2018

French Ambassador to Jordan David Bertolotti receives two Jordanian trainees returning from an internship in French judicial courts (Photo courtesy of JIJ)

AMMAN — A cooperation exchange with French magistrates is providing training to Jordanian future judges and helping the Kingdom enhance its judiciary system, in accordance with the recent judicial reform formulated by His Majesty King Abdullah.

In a recent interview with The Jordan Times, Director of the Judicial Institute of Jordan (JIJ) Thaer Odwan highlighted the “great opportunity” provided by the cooperation conducted with the French judicial sector for both sides.

Praising the “excellent relations” the two countries have shared throughout history, Odwan noted the importance of this exchange in tackling the latest global challenges. “The challenges that Jordan faces right now are also affecting the rest of the world, including France. The collaboration we have implemented with the French judicial experts has been crucial in addressing these new global threats, such as human trafficking, terrorism and cyber crime,” he stated. 

Established in 1990 through a Memorandum of Understanding with the French National School for the Judiciary (ENM), the cooperation was renewed in 2008, strengthening and expanding the fields of collaboration.

For Fabrice Durand, regional attaché of judicial cooperation at the French embassy, this bilateral exchange is a “very important” step for both countries, and a great way to support the “very recent” state of Jordan in implementing its judicial revamping process.


Forming the next generation


A French trainee judge at the ENM Dorian Boujon, recalled the benefits he gained from his visit to Jordan back in 2017. “The time I spent at the JIJ was very comprehensive and allowed me to get a new and fresh insight into another judicial system.  These three weeks have provided me with an expanded knowledge in the field of law enforcement in economic crimes,” he remembered, adding “having a close up look at the details of the Jordanian judicial system and its actors’ attributions has put my existing knowledge into a brand new perspective”.

For Mahmoud Rahal, a Jordanian student who recently returned from his training programme in Nanterres, the immersion into the French system “helped me understand criminal proceedings in France which was a great input as it will help me develop comparative analytic skills in the justice sector”. 

“I like to study partial procedures in foreign countries by comparing them to partial procedures in my own country. Discovering the way the system works in another major criminal court was extremely valuable for me,” he told The Jordan Times.

Two other Jordanian trainees Sandra Al Rabadi and Sara Abu Alsemen recently presented a report to JIJ Director Odwan, reflecting on their experience. “They both underscored the ‘invaluable positive influence’ of this internship in the French courts, and stressed the need to continue such programmes to benefit the largest number of students,” Odwan recalled.


Comprehensive exchange of expertise


In addition to the three-week student exchange programme, conducted every year for French and Jordanian trainee judges, an annual seminar on various judicial and legal topics is held in Amman, under the patronage of the Minister of Justice and the French ambassador.

“This year, we also have a seminar focused on violence against women and children, which is an extremely important topic for our two nations and the rest of the world alike,” said Durand, noting that women’s relationship with and access to justice is one of the most critical points of any judicial system.

“The issues we face in France can be different from the ones in Jordan; for instance when it comes to legacy in divorce cases or honour crimes,” he told The Jordan Times at the French embassy in Amman.

“As an external actor, I was taken aback by the absence of public prosecutor in some cases here. In France, the Justice Ministry systematically assigns a prosecutor to the victim, whether she/he decides to drop the charges,” Durand explained, noting that going on trials can be ‘a very draining and demanding process” for victims.

“In some cases in Jordan, if a person drops the charges against the defendant, the whole case will collapse as there won’t be any public entity to press charges on the society’s behalf. This is, in my opinion, one of the greatest weaknesses of the current system,” he continued.


Supporting not imposing 


“However, despite its huge impact on the overall judicial process, this technical point does not mean that the system is flawed. It is one of these aspects that our bilateral cooperation seeks to improve,” the French magistrate said, stressing that the French experts are only here to provide support and advice to the local judges, rather than impose any new rules.

“Above all, we are here to listen to the Jordanians’ needs and demands. We bring the methodology and the tools for them to be localised and implemented by the Jordanian actors, in accordance with the local context and necessities,” Durand highlighted. 

The four axes of cooperation currently underway include the professional training of magistrates, the regional homogenisation in the justice sector, the support to reform processes and the upholding of human rights and civil society, according to the cooperation agreement.

“Ultimately, all of these areas of work have one objective: to nurture an exchange and shake up our certainties. We have a lot to learn from each other, and the exposure to a whole new judiciary universe is crucial in updating our relation to justice and legality,” Durand concluded.

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