European Lawyers in Lesvos (ELIL)

legal aid on Lesvos
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Tags: Greece: Lesvos | legal / info

European Lawyers in Lesvos gGmbH (“ELIL”) is an independent, charitable non-profit organisation.

Our team of Greek asylum lawyers and volunteer European asylum lawyers provide free, independent legal assistance to asylum seekers on the Greek island of Lesvos. The volunteer lawyers support, and work closely with, their colleagues from the Greek Bar Associations.

It was founded by the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) and the German Bar Association (DAV). These organisations represent the bars and law societies of 32 member countries and 13 further associate and observer countries across Europe, and through them more than 1 million European lawyers.

There is great uncertainty amongst the currently more than 8,500 asylum seekers on Lesvos about their legal entitlements. Many have a limited understanding of the asylum process, the criteria that are applied and their rights, and many attend their asylum interview without having spoken to a lawyer and may be unaware of the possibility of reunification with their family in other EU member states.

We believe that every asylum seeker should be able to receive free legal assistance, from an independent lawyer with experience in asylum law, before their asylum interview. Through our activities, we aim to provide this free legal assistance to as many asylum seekers as possible on Lesvos.

We have four core values:

• Unhindered access to legal assistance – we believe access to independent legal assistance from a lawyer is a fundamental right and vital to upholding the rule of law

• Equality – we provide legal assistance to all, irrespective of nationality, age, gender, ethnic origin, religion and belief, disability or sexual orientation and at all times all team members shall abide by the ELIL Code of Conduct

• Quality – the legal assistance we provide is provided by practising and experienced Greek and 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

• Independence – the legal assistance we provide is completely independent, and in the interest of the individual we are assisting

Our work has two core elements. Our primary focus is the provision of one-on-one legal consultations to help asylum seekers prepare for their asylum interviews (this interview determines whether or not a person will be granted asylum). We are the only legal assistance organisation that focuses on providing information, practical support and tailored advice for asylum seekers at this crucial stage of the asylum process. We also provide assistance with regard to family reunification applications under the Dublin Regulation.

We began operations in Moria Camp, Lesvos, in early August 2016. Since then, we have welcomed 121 volunteer lawyers from 17 countries and provided free legal assistance to over 5,000 people, from 57 different countries (over 3,100 cases).

Our work has a real impact. Of the asylum seekers we have assisted and who have notified us of the outcome of their asylum application, 74.7% have been granted asylum, compared to an average of 46.5% in Greece.

All assistance is provided in our dedicated preparation rooms in our container in Moria, to ensure privacy and confidentiality are preserved. We also operate in the PROKEKA detention area within Moria.

The team includes up to six volunteer asylum lawyers, a legally-trained project coordinator, two Greek asylum lawyers (one as legal coordinator), two legal assistants and full-time Arabic and Farsi interpreters. We always ensure we have at least one French speaking lawyer, as French is the third most widely spoken language in Moria.

Each volunteer lawyer stays for a minimum of three weeks. All of our volunteer lawyers are practising and experienced European asylum lawyers who have been identified through a rigorous application and selection process.

We operate in Moria from Monday to Friday.

For more information about our work, please visit our website:

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