The Ministerial Decision introducing free legal assistance in asylum appeals procedures in Greece was published on 9 September 2016.
Free legal assistance is made available to applicants who appeal before the Appeals Committees against a negative decision on their asylum claim. The appeal procedure before these Committees, last modified in June 2016, does not involve a personal hearing in principle.
Asylum seekers may request free legal assistance at least 10 days before the examination of their appeal under the regular procedure and may request the examination to be postponed where a legal representative has not been appointed at least 5 days beforehand. For cases falling under the exceptional border procedure relating to the admissibility procedure conducted on the islands subject to strict time limits, a request for free legal assistance must be made together with the submission of the appeal. The asylum seeker may only request the postponement of the examination of the appeal where, through no fault of their own, they have not had the possibility to consult their legal representative.
Free legal assistance is to be provided by accredited lawyers, on the basis a Registry of lawyers managed by the Asylum Service. According to the Ministerial Decision, the remuneration fee for legal aid is set at €80 per appeal. The level of the fee is the same for all appeal procedures, regardless of whether the Appeal Committee holds a personal hearing with the asylum seeker or not. In contrast, legal aid frameworks in countries such as France foresee higher rates for appeals with a hearing (€365) than for those without a hearing (€95) before the National Court of Asylum.
As detailed by a joint report by ECRE and The AIRE Centre in July 2016, effective access to legal assistance remains a key challenge for asylum seekers in Greece. Ahead of the publication of the legal aid scheme, the report recommended “targeted support to qualified Greek nongovernmental organisations and practitioners providing legal assistance and representation, and also likely to be involved in the forthcoming state-funded and run legal aid scheme for appeals.”
For more information:
- Ministerial Decision οικ. 12205/2016 on provision of legal assistance to applicants for international protection, Official Gazette 2864/B/9-9-2016.
- AIDA, Greece: Asylum reform in the wake of the EU-Turkey deal, 4 April 2016.
- AIDA, Country Report Greece: Fourth Update, November 2015.