An asylum seeker who was separated on his way to safety from his wife and three children has been reunited with them in London following the successful intervention of RLS and Duncan Lewis.
The family was split for over a year with the father seeking refuge in the UK, where he instructed Duncan Lewis to represent him in his claim for asylum.
Shortly after he claimed asylum, his wife and three children arrived in Greece where they were detained on the outskirts of Athens. They requested family reunification, and the Greek Asylum Service sent the relevant request under the Dublin Regulation to the Home Office to assume responsibility for the family's asylum claim. Following representations from Duncan Lewis, the Home Office agreed to accept responsibility.
Under the Dublin Regulation, the Greek Asylum Service then had six months to effect the transfer, otherwise the Home Office would no longer be obliged to take charge of the family's asylum claim. After considerable delay, the family was finally released from detention and referred to RLS for legal assistance. Following extensive pressure from RLS, the Greek Asylum Service successfully arranged the family's transfer to the UK just before the expiry of the six month period.
Marios Kontos, trainee solicitor at Duncan Lewis and RLS executive committee member, said that "the synergy between the two organisations brought a long-awaited end to the heart-breaking separation of the family". Ariane Adam, barrister at 1 MCB Chambers and RLS executive committee member, said “with more cases than it has capacity to handle, the Greek Asylum Service can miss important deadlines that leave families separated. RLS coordinators and volunteers work to track acceptance and transfer deadlines and ensure the right to family reunification is realised".
In recognition of their work and commitment to the right of access to justice, RLS and Duncan Lewis are both nominated for the Pro Bono Award at this year's Lexis Nexis Awards to be held in London on 15 March 2018.