Meeting a Pressing Need
Members of the Haldane Society along with sister associations across the world are collaborating to set up a legal centre in Lesbos to provide legal information to those within the various refugees camps found on the Greek Island.
The Refugee Crisis
Europe is in the throes of the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War. Millions have made the long, arduous and perilous journey to Europe by land or sea from the Asian and the African continents to flee from the effects of war in those regions.
According to the IOM, 206,400 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea between January and the first week of June this year. In the same period, 2,809 have died attempting to make the journey, marking an increase in fatalities of 52% compared to the first 6 months of 2015.
With the causes of this crisis continuing unmitigated, the coming months are expected to see the death toll again rise.
Once those who take the route through Turkey arrive in Lesbos, the majority are detained without access to a lawyer and unaware of their legal rights whilst on the Island. Thousands anxiously wait to see whether they will be transferred back to Turkey, a country controversially considered ‘a safe third country’ despite its arbitrary detention, refoulement and shooting of refugees.
Legal Centre Lesbos
Considering the level of the crisis in the Mediterranean generally, and Lesbos in particular, a group of volunteer lawyers and legal students have decided to set up a legal centre on the Island.
The Centre aims to provide solidarity with the inhabitants of the various camps by providing legal information regarding their rights which empowers them to make important decisions regarding their immediate future. This includes informing them of their options in relation to family reunification and their possible relocation to other parts of Europe.
Incredibly, legal aid for representation is currently not granted for most matters relating to asylum. In cases involving the highest levels of vulnerability, the Centre will assist in providing for their representation through Greek lawyers on the ground.
The Legal Centre also intends to bring legal challenges and create campaigns focusing on the detention of asylum seekers on the Island, their conditions of detention, delays in the asylum system and their possible return to Turkey, amongst other issues.
The Legal Centre has been endorsed by various Association from across the world, including:
- The International Association of Democratic Lawyers
- European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights
- Asociación Americana de Juristas
- Alternative Intervention of Athens Lawyers (Greece)
- Hellenic Union of Progressive Lawyers (Greece)
- Associazione Dei Giuristi Democratici (Italy)
- Indian Association of Lawyers (India)
- Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers (UK)
- Juristes Democrates de Suisse (Switzerland)
- German Association of Democratic Lawyers (Germany)
If you would like to support the establishment of a Legal Centre in Lesbos, you can donate at https://chuffed.org/project/legalcentrelesbos
The coordinator of this project, Carlos Orjuela of the Haldane Executive, can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.