Fighting for the Rights of Asylum Seekers and Refugees by Means of Law
We believe that systemically unlawful administrative practices and zones of lawlessness in the European asylum system require a multi-dimensional approach: We hence rely on a combination of individual legal aid, strategic litigation, advocacy and research. Our work in all those areas is entirely dedicated to our core aim: Fighting for the rights of asylum seekers, refugees and their families by legal means.
Individual legal aid is the core and the basis of our work. We provide free legal aid to those most in need: asylum seekers, refugees, and their families. Due to structural deficiencies in the legal aid system, protection seekers are often deprived of legal advice. This results in zones of lawlessness where rights merely exist on paper. Where the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, EU Directives and Regulations, and national law are systemically disregarded, individual legal aid is indispensable.
Access to justice is an essential element of the rule of law. Legal support and representation is the only way to enforce the rights of asylum seekers, refugees, and their families. We argue with administrations and litigate before European courts to enforce the individual rights granted by law. We make rights exist in reality.
Litigation is strategic when it seeks to address systemically unlawful practices through innovative legal approaches. Strategic litigation is particularly necessary in the European asylum system: Structural deficiencies in the administration have the effect that countless asylum seekers and refugees are deprived of their rights.
We employ strategic litigation in various fields. We enforce the human rights of asylum seekers who are forced to stay under illegal conditions in the EU hotspots or other refugee camps in Greece. We strategically litigate cases before the European Court of Human Rights. Our complaints have been successful in numerous cases.
We also enforce the human rights of asylum seekers who are pushed back at the EU’s external borders. We focus on cases related to the illegal closure of the Greek-Turkish border, and lodge complaints before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Strategic litigation is also required to enforce the legal rights of asylum seekers to reunite with their families. As regards intra-EU family reunification, we have co-developed the approach to enforce the right to family life as granted under the Dublin Regulation before administrative courts. What has started as strategic litigation is now a well-established legal means. We thereby contribute to ending unlawful practices of administrations in Greece, Germany, and other EU countries.
Regarding family members residing in countries outside the EU, we are currently working on strategic litigation to enforce the legal right to family life. As German embassies continue to prolong administrative procedures, thereby rendering void the legally granted rights, we contribute to enforcing those rights by developing innovative approaches to court litigation.
Advocacy is necessary when legally granted rights are systemically disregarded. We raise awareness and challenge structurally flawed administrative practices. We engage in political discussion and seek to hold responsible political actors to account and to make the responsible state institutions act.
We believe that legal aid and strategic litigation must be accompanied by advocacy. This is necessary because the technical legal arguments must be translated into a language that is understood by the responsible political actors. Thus, we explain our work to the broader public and the relevant political fora.
Our advocacy is entirely dedicated to the cause of our work: We raise awareness and inform about structural human rights violations and zones of lawlessness within the European asylum system. This is essential because it is our responsibility, as European citizens, to respect and protect the legal rights of asylum seekers and refugees. Human rights concern us all.
Research is the backbone of our work. We believe that innovative strategic litigation requires sound empirical and legal research.
We believe that zones of lawlessness must not be forgotten. We fight against the ‘out of mind out of sight’ mechanism that makes it easy to forget about systemic human rights violations at the EU’s external borders. Thus, we regularly publish reports to document the situations in which the rights of asylum seekers and refugees are systemically disregarded. While we focus on reports about the situation in the EU hotspots, we also provide expert opinions on other issues. For instance, our report on obstacles in family reunification procedures from countries outside the EU serves many colleagues in litigating before administrative courts.
We believe that our legal work is only as good as our legal arguments. We therefore also carry out legal research. Sound academic research is required to develop strong and innovative legal arguments and approaches. Our staff hence regularly publishes in legal journals, participates in academic conferences and discusses with legal scholars at several universities and other academic institutions.
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