Legal profession joins forces to support migrant crisis legal aid initiative

Call on EU to fund acute need for legal aid on the borders of the EU.

The Law Society of Ireland and The Bar of Ireland have announced their joint support of “European Lawyers in Lesvos”, a legal aid initiative in support of refugees engulfed in Greece’s ongoing migrant crisis.

A joint project of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) and the German Bar Association (DAV), it has been developed to provide additional legal supports to the asylum process in Lesvos and to assist current and future asylum seekers arriving on the island.

Chairman of the CCBE’s Migration Law Working Group and Member of The Bar of Ireland David Conlan Smyth SC said, “Upholding the rule of law and access to justice are central tenets of the legal profession, which in this context should mean access to a lawyer for all asylum seekers to receive individual advice about their legal options. The legal professions across Europe are cooperating to assist the Greek Bars to provide much needed legal assistance during this unprecedented crisis. Lawyers from all over Europe will provide their services in Lesvos on a pro bono basis.” 

Director General of the Law Society Ken Murphy said, “The Law Society and Council of The Bar of Ireland are acutely aware of the need for legal aid in places such as Lesvos, which are ‘hotspots’ in the current migrant crisis. Access to justice, legal advice and human rights protection are crucial for those arriving at Europe’s borders in a particularly vulnerable position. The legal help provided as part of this initiative will make all the difference for people seeking to start a new life in Europe.”

However, Mr Murphy stressed that, “The acute need for legal aid in Lesvos and elsewhere on the borders of the EU cannot be met through funding from the legal profession. This need must be funded by the EU itself in the interest of justice and the rule of law.”

Solicitors and barristers in Ireland have come together to contribute €10,000 to this vital project which will fund a number of international lawyers to travel to Lesvos to give legal assistance to asylum seekers. For more information please visit the European Lawyers in Lesvos website

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