One of the participants on the transitional justice study tour that the FNF hosted from the 6th till the 12th of November in Brussels and Berlin was Zimbabwean human rights lawyer, David Coltart. Coltart, who is also a founding member of the political party ‘Movement for Democratic Change’ (MDC), is well-known for the sterling work he did as Zimbabwe’s Minister for Education, Sport, Arts and Culture from 2009 to August 2013.
Coltart had had the good fortune of visiting Berlin before the study tour and has a real soft spot for the city. He now has what he can call a ritual – on each visit to the German capital, Coltart celebrates the fall of the wall by straddling the cobblestones which mark where it once stood and divided people. Doing this, he says, reminds him that tyrants do fall. This is particularly poignant given the book Coltart published earlier this year: The Struggle Continues: 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe. Living in Zimbabwe, Coltart recounts, one must remind oneself that tyrannies do eventually come to an end.
The study tour, comprising of six strategically selected participants – two from Zimbabwe, two from Tanzania and two from South Africa, started in Brussels with a broad overview of ‘transitional justice’, a field that has been receiving growing attention mainly since the mid-80s and is thus still considered relatively new.
Wikipedia usefully defines the term as follows:
“Transitional justice consists of judicial and non-judicial measures implemented in order to redress legacies of human rights abuses. Such measures “include criminal prosecutions, truth commissions, reparations programs, and various kinds of institutional reforms”. Transitional justice is enacted at a point of political transition from violence and repression to societal stability and it is informed by a society’s desire to rebuild social trust, repair a fractured justice system, and build a democratic system of governance. The core value of transitional justice is the very notion of justice—which does not necessarily mean criminal justice. This notion and the political transformation, such as regime change or transition from conflict are thus linked toward a more peaceful, certain, and democratic future.”
Each country represented has a unique past (or present) of injustice with which it must grapple. The idea behind the study tour was to expose participants to transitional justice measures implemented in dealing with, in particular, Germany’s Third Reich and German Democratic Republic past. The group was also briefed, from a European Union perspective, on the events in the Western Balkans giving rise to the need for very particular transitional justice there. Of course, while each situation is unique, there are many similarities in the types of atrocities committed and so much space for sharing experiences, both around the awful events that unfolded as well as around corresponding transitional justice measures. Ultimately, and very importantly to note, the human experience of suffering is universal.
In Berlin, the tour met with government institutions that deal with the compensation of victims of injustice not only for the loss of property, but for the loss of loved ones (lives lost) as well as for lost freedoms (concentration camps, emprisonment). We also learned about compensation for various consequences injustices have had on the mental and physical health of victims as well as how compensation was and is calculated in addition to such technical intricacies as evidentiary burdens.
Complimentary to the above were our meetings with with organisations involved in what are often termed ‘softer’ (and consequently erroneously underrated) measures such as school curricula and how society more broadly remembers the past (memorials, days of remembrance, public art, museums etc) so that it never repeats itself. Of particular interest was our meeting with the Foundation for Remembrance, Responsibility and Future which fosters a very bottom-up and personal approach to dealing with the past, emphasising the need to ‘dig where you stand’, i.e. to uncover and reflect upon the stories in one’s own neighbourhood.
All in all, the tour offered profound insights and lessons for the study tour group from a multitude of perspectives (the state, civil society and individuals). Of course, members of the group were also able to share their own experiences with the organisations in Brussels and Berlin and, importantly, with each other.
- – FNF Africa
- – Stiftung EVZ (Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibilty, Future”)
- – Memorial site Hohenschönhausen (former Stasi prison, Berlin)
Exposure Program to Germany
An increasing number of people, devices, and sensors are nowadays connected by digital networks which have revolutionized the ability to generate, share, and access information. Data create enormous value for the global economy, driving innovation and growth. At the same time the ever growing amount of data presents a formidable challenge to the privacy of citizens.
In order to better understand the potential of big data for both citizens and organizations while addressing the challenges to individual privacy the Regional Office of Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) organized a study tour to Germany. Digital rights activists, researchers and representatives of business associations from Pakistan, India, Bhutan, and Bangladesh spent one week in Hamburg and Berlin speaking to data protection agencies, think tanks, data scientists and information and communication technology (ICT) companies.
During official appointments participants discussed latest technological developments, how a modern data protection framework should look like, and which ideas could be translated into initiatives in South Asia. The recent European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation which for the first time creates pan-european standards for data protection and a level playing field for companies targeting European citizens made the participants particularly interested.
“The different perspectives presented during the study tour were eye opening and I strongly believe some ideas can be implemented in South Asia to combine openness for innovation and safeguards for individual privacy” said Ruben Dieckhoff, Project Manager South Asia who organized the tour together with FNF’s International Academy for Leadership (IAF).
A delegation consisting of seven representatives from the Tunisian liberal party “Afek Tounis” recently came to Germany to participate in a study trip on “New perspectives for Tunisia – EU/Germany relations”. The aim was to discuss the international relations with Tunisia with German experts in order to establish new contacts and networks for future cooperation.
The program covered several visits to institutions and think-tanks in Brussels and Berlin. At the German Federal Foreign Office the group met with Barbara Wolf, director of the Maghreb-division, to discuss the current state and future of German foreign policy towards Tunisia. Among the focal points in the debate were initiatives like the partnership for transformation and Germany’s diplomatic reactions to the revolution. This topic drew lots of questions from members of the delegation who were questioning Germany’s foreign policy strategy in comparison to the U.S. or Great Britain.
At the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development the delegation had the chance to exchange information and experiences with Christiane Bögemann-Hagedorn, Deputy Director General for North Africa, Middle East, South Eastern and Eastern Europe and Latin America. Dr. Martin Henkelmann, director of the German Chamber of Commerce abroad in Tunisia and his colleague, Philipp Simon Andree, head of division for North Africa at the Federation of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), analyzed the pitfalls and potentials for ever closer economic relations between Germany and Tunisia during a working lunch. The topic was continued during a discussion with the experts Alexander Knipperts, Patrick Meinhardt and Rainer Ptok from the trade association (Unternehmerverband Deutschland).
German, European and American policy towards Tunisia was intensively examined from a scientific perspective during a meeting with Isabelle Werenfels, director of the study group on the Middle East and Africa at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, SWP).
Ulrich Niemann, head of the international division of Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation for Freedom and Beate Apelt, director of regional division North Africa, Middle East and Eastern Europe, welcomed the group in the FNF-headquarters and gave a presentation on the international work of FNF in North Africa and in the world.
Berlin, Cologne, Aachen amd Düren – these were the stations of the visiting program titled “Transparent, accountable urban governance and administrative systems”. The aim of the one-week program was to showcase how health, transport and finances are handled on the municipal level in the Federal Republic of Germany. “Respect for the rule of law is a main reason why German municipalities succeed in spite of financial deficits”, said Anjali Srivastava, Program Officer at Praja Foundation from Mumbai. She, together with her fellow travelers, enjoyed the meetings with German officials and experts and also the sightseeing like here at the historic Cathedral of Cologne.
More information on our work in Southasia:
A delegation consisting of eleven representatives from the Public Relations Bureau of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights went to Germany on a Study Trip on “Democracy, Rule of Law and Human Rights: German International Cooperation”.
After arriving in Germany the delegation was greeted with an opening dinner attended by H.E. Dr.-Ing. Fauzi Bowo, the Indonesian Ambassador to Germany. The Ambassador welcomed and supported the study trip as Indonesian trade with Germany is one of the most active one to date.
The program covers visits to the German Federal Ministry of Justice, the Berlin Constitutional Court, the Head Office of Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit in Potsdam, a dialogue with the Indonesian diplomats at the Indonesian Embassy in Berlin, a discussion with a former German Human Rights Commissioner, and a city tour of Berlin.
At the Federal Ministry of Justice, the delegation was greeted by the Head of a Department at the Ministry, Mr. Mathias Hellmann, followed by a dialogue on the topic of ‘International Legal Cooperation and Rule of Law.’
At the Berlin Constitutional Court, the delegation had a discussion with the Vice-President of the Berlin Constitutional Court Dr. Robert Wolfgang Seegmüller on the topic of ‘The Role of the Judiciary: How to Ensure the Rule of Law’.
During the visit to FNF Head Office, the delegation was greeted by the Desk Officer for Southeast Asia, Mr. Wolfgang Heinze, who gave a presentation on the international works of FNF in the world and in Asia.
The Dialogue with the former German Human Rights Commissioner, Mr. Markus Löning, focussed on the how Germany maintains its fulfilment of citizen rights, including safeguarding tolerance and pluralism. This is a topic that drew lots of questions from members of the delegation who were curious about how Germany manages religious tolerance.
The study trip is one of the activities set out in the cooperation between Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung für die Freiheit and the Ministry of Law and Human Rights of the Republic of Indonesia, and was the first activity within the scope of the cooperation this year.
Jakarta, 19 May 2015
From May 14 through May 19, 7 representatives and officers of the HaTnuaParty, the Foundation’s counterpart, visited Berlin.
The visit was conducted under the theme “50-Year Diplomatic Relationship between Germany and Israel” and concluded with the solemn inauguration of the photo show “Religion*Freedom*City”. Pictures were chosen from a photo contest held by the FNF in Jerusalem.
An intense program was conducted in Berlin covering political informational conversations and a deep examination of the Jewish history and life in Berlin.
During two days of the program the participants visited the FDP federal convention in Berlin. Once there, they had the opportunity to become thoroughly familiar with the work of the Liberal Youth and the FDP municipal politicians, as well as to analyze the relevance of these political organizations and the own party structure.
FNF fellow workers explained to the visitor group the positioning of the FDP within the political party spectrum, both in Germany and in Europe, as well as the work performed by the FNF both in Germany and abroad.
Visitors were particularly interested in getting acquainted with Jewish life in Berlin. Talks held with a board representative of the synagogue located at Oranienburgerstraße and a representative of the Central Jew Council, as well as a visit to the synagogue offices, were highly enlightening. A city round trip was especially dedicated to Jewish life in Berlin before and during the Nazi regime. Meetings with German-Jewish society representatives and the European-Jewish ELNET network focused on the enhancement of relationships.
From March 14 through March 21, 2015, a group of 7 Cambodian politicians, including two women, visited Germany. The group was composed by 6 parliament members and the deputy director of the Public Relations Department of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). The participants are members of the parliamentary committees led by the CNRP. The CNRP is the only opposition party with 44% of votes, versus the ruling Cambodia Popular Party with 48% of votes. The topic of the 1-week academic trip was “The Constructive Role of Opposition Work in the Parliament”.
The primary goal of the visiting program focused on getting acquainted with and discussing those instruments employed by the Parliamentary opposition’s work in Germany, as well as particularly knowing the work performed by the committees led by the opposition.
This visit included Berlin, Brandenburg/Potsdam, and North Rhine-Westfalia/Düsseldorf. Our Cambodian visitors learned first about politics, state administration, federal system, and the panorama of the political parties in the Federal Republic of Germany. Particularly significant was for them the opposition work and the efforts conducted by committees in the following areas: politics, human rights, fight against corruption, health, budget, education, as well as press and public relations work at federal, regional, and municipal levels. They also exchanged experiences with their German peers about the parliamentary work. The culminating part of the trip was the visit to the German Federal Parliament in the Reichstag Building in Berlin.
The study group visited the headquarters of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, where they received information about the liberal-oriented work performed internationally by our Foundation.
At the end of the academic trip, all the participants were very satisfied with the obtained results. Topics such as politics and state administration, party structure, media work, education, health, etc. were greatly welcomed. They thanked the Foundation for the organization and opportunity to make the trip; they will use the knowledge acquired to perform their political activities in Cambodia, in order to foster freedom and more democracy in their country.
by Sophanna Khim and Hans-Georg Jonek
North Korea often makes the headlines on politically sensitive issues. However, this country has also daily problems related to developments that Germany got already over in part. Thus Germany serves as a role model, especially when it comes to technical issues.
In late November, nine North Korean delegates went on a one-week journey to Germany with most of them being urban planners and architects. The main theme of the trip was “Sustainable Urban Planning”. During the trip across Germany from Berlin by way of Bitterfeld and Kassel to Bonn and the Ruhr region, the delegates learned not only about technical innovation but got also fundamental information on sustainable urban planning in Germany.
The tour was mainly focused on restructuring measures. In Bitterfeld-Wolfen, mayor Petra Wust portrayed how the long-standing industrial base, the chemical stronghold of former GDR, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, bored the downfall of the GDR-companies (such as AGFA) and was reinvented through a prospective location policy. The Ruhr region was confronted with a similar problem about twenty years ago. Above all, the mine shutdowns brought the region to a structural crisis. Several cities reacted, strengthening the urban marketing and establishing a new branch. In this context, the North Korean guests were highly interested in the transformation and renaturation of the Emscher channel, the biggest sewage drain in Germany.
Even though this visit program was technology-oriented, politics was not left out. In the Landtag in Duesseldorf, the regional parliament of the state North Rhine-Westphalia, MP Kai Abruszat, a member of the liberal party, received the delegates and had a talk with them about the work of the Landtag and about the question on water supply, which is ensured at local level in Germany.
Since 2002, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom has conducted activities in the North of the divided peninsula. For quite some time, there has been the sign of changes in the economic policy in North Korea. The foundation wants to give support from this start point. Besides economic regeneration, the foundation dedicates also to the field of city planning and renewable energy.
From October 11 to 18, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom organized an information program in Germany (Hamburg and Berlin) for Turkish journalists named “Freedom of media – legal, institutional and economic fundaments”.
Participants in this program were: Sevgi Akarçeşme (Zaman & Today’s Zaman), Yonca Poyraz Doğan (independent journalist), Ahu Özyurt (CNN Türk), Müjde Yazıcı (Milliyet), İpek Yezdani (Hürriyet), Lora Sarı (Agos) and Ayhan Aktar (Taraf and Bilgi University).
Three priority subjects were the basis of this program:
1. Journalism/structure/outlook/freedom of media
2. Foreign policy
3. Turkish community
Professor Dr. Steffen Burkhardt, Director of the International Media Center (Hamburg), was in charge of the introductory section of the seminar that lasted one day. Subjects such as laws and institutions of the German media and communication system were addressed, as well as the principles and structure of media freedom and self-control; media protagonists and the ombudsman concept; media independence mechanisms and contents in the digital transformation era. Through this crash course, broad and greatly informative, participants acquired a general overview on the German media history, structure and principles, which eventually proved to be a solid foundation for future program phases.
Based on this seminar, the delegation had meetings (in Hamburg) with stern.de and Spiegel editors; (in Berlin) with members of the metropolitan studio of the ARD channel and ZEIT newspaper, among others. Also with the German Association of Journalists, the German Newspaper Editors Federation and the German Journal Council.
Regarding the second subject, the delegation had the opportunity to have conversations with two members of the German Parliament: Özcan Mutlu from Alliance ‘90/The Greens and Matern Freiherr Marschall von Bieberstein (CDU). First of all, foreign policy topics were addressed, such as the relationship status between Turkey and the European Union, the civil war in Syria and the international coalition battle against IS.
Also, Turkey’s internal policy subjects were addressed, such as the increased restriction on free opinion and media, the allegations of corruption against members of the ACP government and –as a consequence– the massive lay-off of police officers, judges and district attorneys, etc.
Another meeting related with the second subject was carried out with Dr. Günther Seufert, Turkey expert of the Foundation for Politics and Science (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, SWP). After sharing summarized information on the structure and function of the SWP, the conversation focused on the Turkey/EU relationship and the future of the adhesion negotiations.
Conversations were held with the Turkish-German Center directorate (Berlin-Neukölln) regarding the third priority subject (Turkish community in Germany) and with Kamuran Sezer, Director of the futureorg Institute (Dortmund), an institute dedicated to applied, prospective and organizational research. On one hand, everyday and integration problems were addressed; on the other hand, issues concerning the political orientation of German citizens with immigrant (Turkish) background.
The visit to the FNF main office in Potsdam helped the delegation gain insights on the broad international activities of the Foundation. Turkish guests also showed great interest in the location and facilities of the Foundation’s headquarters.
The visiting program ended with a public round table, to which selective guests with priority interest in Turkey were invited. Time was insufficient and only the following subjects were addressed: “Freedom of the media in Turkey” and “Civil war in Syria – The Kurd issue in the IS”. Journalists faced competent questions asked by the guests.
The situation in Thailand has been the center of attention in the German media for the past months. In addition to the demonstrations which continued for months recently the head of government and nine cabinet members had to resign from their posts following a ruling of the Constitutional Court. Since then the Thai army declared material law and the news on Thailand are changing by the minute.
One focus of the foundation’s work in Thailand is working with the Ministry of Justice in regard with injustice and usury debts. Therefore, the Foundation invited a twelve -member delegation from the Ministry of Justice and Chulalongkorn University for a visiting program to Germany. The aim was to get to know the German legal system in more detail in particular with its efforts against private debt.
The head of the delegation Suwana Suwanjuta, is the director of the Legal Aid Centre for debtors and victims of injustice, which is attached to the Ministry of Justice. Since its founding in 2010, the center has dealt with approximately 360 cases with a dispute value of more than 559 million baht (about € 12.4 million).
At the beginning of the visiting programme in Germany, the participants were informed about the proclamation of the “danger zone“ in Hamburg in November 2013, and its impact on the rule of law. The participants met the liberal parlamentarian Carl Jarchow, the domestic policy spokesman of the FDP parliamentary group in the Hamburg Parliament. The legal basis for the declaration of a danger area was explained to the delegation by three judges in the Hamburg Administrative Court.
The delegation moved on from Hamburg to the capital of Germany, Berlin. Not only the city of Berlin is deeply in debt, but also its inhabitants. Therefore Bettina Heine, board member of the Regional Working Group for debtors and insolvency consulting Berlin eV, reported of the measures taken by the asssociation to avert the debts already in the prevention stage. To establish equality before the courts in Germany, in civil as well as criminal cases the plaintiff and the accused can get legal aid and advice, or use an assigned counsel. Again, this shows the differences to Thailand.
Specifically, in the discussion with her German counterpart from the Ministry of Justice and Consumer Affairs, Mathias Hellmann, the participants saw possible approaches to a reform of the legal system and what the advantages of outsourcing consultancy organizations such as the debtor and insolvency advice or the consumer centers are.
Overall, besides the unstable situation to which the delegates returned, they were able to learn a lot about the German system and returned with new ideas for their work in Thailand.