Good news! Refugee Law Clinics Abroad becomes Equal Rights Beyond Borders
But we not only changed our name. We are glad to inform you about several developments.
We have opened our new office in Athens in October. This office focuses on family reunification from Greece to other Member States. The main task is to provide legal assistance in complicated cases of family reunion under the Dublin III Regulation. We get referrals from other NGOs and lawyers. In addition, our presence in Athens of course facilitates following up on our own cases from Chios on the Greek mainland. Together with our cooperation lawyer Christopher Wohnig, we take cases to court in Germany. Exiting strategic litigation – as there is hardly any German case law on Dublin family reunion yet. Vinzent Vogt of the organizing team is working in Athens together with trainee lawyer Niki Georgiou as well as two interpreters and one legal intern. We are currently looking for legal interns in Athens as from February 2019.
Our work in Chios continues. Since May 2017, we provide legal assistance to asylum seekers in the EU hotspot Vial. We support in the first instance procedure and in Dublin family reunification cases. The situation in Vial has not changed unfortunately. Our work however has developed. Since summer this year, we only work with long term legal interns who stay in Chios for at least three months. While experienced students from refugee law clinics in Germany still form an important part, our team has become more international. We work with highly qualified and motivated legal interns from all over Europe. Currently, Catharina Ziebritzki of the organizing team is working in Chios together with case manager and cultural mediator Yaser Fares, four legal interns and two interpreters. We are currently looking for a Greek lawyer to take over the legal coordination of the Chios office as from January 2019.
Our office in Berlin is strengthened. As we understand research and advocacy as complementary to practical legal aid, we have published and contributed to the academic and political discussion ever since we have started our project. We now strengthen this essential part of our work. The Berlin office focuses on legal analysis which enables us to advocate for the rights of asylum seekers and to enforce their rights in individual cases. In accordance with our practical work, our research and advocacy focuses on the rights of asylum seekers in the Dublin system on the one hand, and on the EU hotspots and the EU Turkey Deal on the other hand. A clear understanding of the legal framework together with knowledge about the situation on the ground enables us to engage in discussion with the relevant political actors. We offer support with regard to strategic litigation. Robert Nestler of the organizing team is working in Berlin together with lawyer Anne Pertsch.
We welcome our new board members Kathleen Neundorf, research assistant in Halle, and Katharina Stamm, Legal Officer for European Migration Policy at the Diakonie Germany, without whom our project would never had come into being. Clara Bünger and Catharina Ziebritzki, both of the organizing team, remain in the board.
We are grateful to all those who have made our work possible through continuous support and encouragement. We in particular thank the International Refugee Assistance Project with whom we jointly implement our office in Athens and the Mercator Stiftung who is supporting our office in Chios.
Even though Equal Rights Beyond Borders might sound far from reality: We are looking forward to the coming time and our common work.