The majority of refugees in Greece neither receive assistance from a lawyer before receiving a first decision on their asylum claim nor before applying to reunite with their family members elsewhere in the EU. Greek lawyers are underfunded; demand for legal assistance unmet.
That is where we come in.
To fill this gap, our volunteer lawyers travel to Athens and offer free, expert legal assistance to refugees. Our clients come to us either as walk-ins to the clinic or by referral from Greek organisations.
Our main priorities are:
1. Empowering refugees to advocate for themselves by preparing them for their substantive asylum interviews
2. Identifying and assisting in obtaining necessary evidence
3. Assisting refugees to make applications to reunite with their family members elsewhere in Europe through the Dublin reunification procedure or the relevant EU member state's family reunion process
4. Providing training to refugees as community interpreters to empower them to gain sustainable life-long skills
We may also be able to provide advice or assistance in other areas, including referrals to other relevant bodies such as the Greek Asylum Service, embassies or for medical assessment.
From time to time, we collaborate with Greek organisations to provide 'Know your rights' legal information workshops to refugees in and around Athens.
At present, RLS is unable to provide court representation in Greece relating to asylum applications.
We fund our work through individual donations and support from organisations that do not threaten the project's independence or our ability to assist refugees.
Since April 2017, we have been able to send out volunteer lawyers each week to Athens, where they have been working closely with adult and child refugees on their asylum claims and applications for reunification with family members elsewhere in Europe. So far, over 400 refugees have received free legal advice.