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29 November 2022

The AIAKOS Programme is back: immersion into the programme in Belgium

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After the hybrid exchange organised in the autumn 2021the AIAKOS Programme is finally back to its full face-to-face format!

Around 250 judges, prosecutors, and judicial trainees from 13 European countries have had the chance to travel abroad to attend the AIAKOS exchange organised in one of the 10 host countries available (Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic). The first week of autumn AIAKOS took place from 14 to 18 November 2022. The participants had the chance to attend presentations and lectures from experienced speakers and experts, to attend hearings, and to visit the courts, institutions, and the judicial school of the host country.

Launched in 2014, the AIAKOS Programme offers a unique exchange platform for future and early-career judges and prosecutors to learn and exchange views about different national judicial systems, foster mutual trust and raise their awareness of the European dimension of their (future) work.

One week of exchange has just finished and another one is about to start. Monday 28 November will mark the beginning of the second week of autumn AIAKOS. The 5-day exchange will see 13 judicial schools in as many countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Slovak republic, Sweden) open their doors to more than 200 prosecutors, judges, and judicial trainees from 10 EU Member States. The participants will meet their counterparts abroad to discover the peculiarities of other judicial systems and to increase the sense of belonging to a common European judicial culture.

Each country’s agenda is different and unique because it is entirely designed by each national judicial institution. During both weeks of AIAKOS, the European Judicial Training Network offers a joint session to all participants: the judgecraft webinar led by Judge Leslie Cuthbert, expert from the Judicial College of England & Wales. The aim is to help trainees understand how biases can shape decision making, help them think outside the box, and make them aware of certain factors that may affect performance in decision making.

Behind the scenes: interview to the 2022 AIAKOS participants in Belgium

On 18 November 2022, the European Judicial Training Network was invited to the AIAKOS organised by the Belgian Judicial Training Institute in Brussels to present the Exchange Programme training offer.

This was the occasion to discuss the benefits and the added value of the exchange with several participants: B., a Greek judge, H., a Latvian prosecutor, and M., an Italian judicial trainee.

‘Why did you want to participate in the AIAKOS Programme abroad?’

H: “I wanted to discover more about the judicial systems of other European countries since the Latvian judicial system is peculiar and totally differs from others.”

B: “I participated in the AIAKOS Programme at national level last year and I enjoyed the exchange with colleagues from other countries. It was extremely interesting, and I learned a lot. Therefore, this year I wanted to experience the exchange abroad.”

M: “Since in my daily work I have little chance to speak English, I decided to participate in this full-English exchange to improve the knowledge of the typical judicial terminology.”

‘What did you particularly appreciate in the programme?’

H: “We attended a murder trial yesterday at the Palace of Justice in Brussels, it was fascinating.”

B: “The agenda is various, and a vast array of topics has been tackled. I enjoyed the session on ‘cognitive biases’ (ed., the judgecraft session) and the one on ‘terrorism.’ I was not aware of this information since we do not usually receive such trainings at national level.”

M: “I love how everyone is committed to participate actively in the different sessions. The atmosphere is friendly and encourages networking. Plus, all trainees have about the same age.”

‘In your opinion, what is the added value of the exchange?’

H: “The exchange with peers is something that you do not have at national level, normally. I am surprised to discover that several aspects of my daily work that I thought being ‘of common sense’ are instead approached in diverse ways in other European countries. The AIAKOS Programme has really opened my mind, I believe.”

B: “I learned a lot about the Belgian judicial system, and I have had the chance to exchange with the Belgian trainees. I have learned so many things I was not aware of. I somehow feel part of a ‘European judiciary’ now, not only of the Greek one. This exchange should be made mandatory for everyone!”

“I have met many kind and interesting people with whom I hope to stay in touch in the future. It will surely be useful for future cooperation. I would advise everyone to participate in the AIAKOS Programme. It is great :)”

The Exchange Programme Team would like to thank all the judicial schools and the national judicial institutions for their valuable cooperation in organising the AIAKOS Programme 2022.