OUR STORY - WHAT WE STAND FOR
To show solidarity with refugees and our Greek colleagues who represent them, we began as a team of UK immigration lawyers and activists and set up a pro bono law clinic in Athens in April 2017 where refugees could seek free legal support for their asylum or family reunification cases. Initially relying on a grant from the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association, we have since received grants from other institutional and individual funders who enable us to continue to run the clinic. Many of the UK asylum and immigration lawyers who set up the Athens Clinic had spent time in Greece and France where they witnessed the realities faced by those seeking sanctuary or family reunification in Europe. Refugees are denied access to justice due to severe administrative, legislative, practical obstacles, insufficient information and misinformation, and a lack of legal assistance. They are trapped in Greece, living lives in limbo. To recognise its achievements, RLS-Athens has been awarded the Lexis Nexis Pro Bono Award 2018.
We work in solidarity with people who migrate. We advance safe migration through legal support, casework, strategic litigation, outreach, training and partnerships. We advocate for the promotion and protection of people’s rights throughout the migration process.
• We recognise that immigration systems are weighted against those forced to migrate and we challenge hostile policy in an effort to level the playing field
• We stand opposed to all forms of violence against people compelled to migrate, including those who are undocumented.
• We support the global movement that fights entrenched inequalities, racism and other forms of discrimination that force people to migrate.
• We strive to develop inclusive, sustainable and regenerative ways of working and facilitate the inclusion of those with lived migration experience.
In February 2021, in partnership with 6 commercial firms in London, we launched the Family Reunion from Europe project (FRFE) in the UK aiming to provide guidance and casework support to people who wish to join their UK family members post Brexit and who were eligible to do so before the Dublin Regulations came to an end for the UK in December 2020. From January 2021, we also established a presence on Lesvos, Greece, by setting up our Islands project. The aim of the RLS Islands project is to ensure that essential legal information and casework assistance in relation to family reunion to the UK post Brexit is accessible to people on the Eastern Aegean islands and, importantly, that systemic barriers to accessing UK family reunification procedures are monitored, documented and taken forward strategically.