The European Lawyers in Lesvos began operations in Moria Reception and Identification Centre on Lesvos in early August 2016, initially with two volunteer lawyers and a project coordinator. Over the following months, the team expanded to include up to six volunteer asylum lawyers, a project coordinator, a Greek asylum lawyer as legal coordinator, another Greek asylum lawyer, two legal assistants and full-time Arabic and Farsi interpreters.
In its first year of operation, the European Lawyers in Lesvos welcomed 84 volunteer lawyers from 15 countries and provided legal assistance to over 1,800 cases (over 2,500 people in total). For the latest updates about our work, please click here.
Our work has two core elements. Our primary focus is the provision of one-on-one legal consultations to help applicants prepare for their first instance asylum admissibility/eligibility interviews – in doing this, we are the only legal assistance project that focuses on providing information, practical support and tailored advice for applicants at the crucial first instance stage of the asylum process. We also provide assistance with regard to family reunification applications under the Dublin Regulation.
We have up to 6 volunteer asylum lawyers on Lesvos at any given time, and each volunteer lawyer stays for a minimum of 3 weeks. We operate in Moria at least six days per week. All our lawyers work on a pro bono and temporary basis in collaboration with their Greek colleagues. Where any litigation is required before a court or tribunal in Greece, contact is made with a Greek Bar or a member of the Greek bars.
We are one of only a small number of legal assistance projects with permission to work in Moria. On 28 July 2016, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the CCBE, the DAV and the Alternate Minister of Interior and Administrative Reconstruction, competent for Migration Policy. This Memorandum of Understanding set out the framework for the European Lawyers in Lesvos project and guarantees its access to Moria Reception and Identification Centre to provide legal assistance. This Memorandum of Understanding was extended, on the same terms, for an additional year from 28 July 2017.
We provide legal assistance to all, irrespective of nationality, age, sex, race, religion, disability or sexual orientation.
The legal assistance we provide is completely independent and is provided by practising and experienced European asylum lawyers who have been identified through a rigorous application and selection process. The legal assistance we provide complies with the professional and ethical standards of the legal profession, including those relating to privacy and confidentiality.
To read testimonies from some of our previous volunteers, please click here
If you are an applicant for international protection on Lesvos and would like more information as to how you can speak to one of our volunteer lawyers, please click here