Following a joint complaint made by Avocats Sans Frontieres France, I Have Rights and Human Rights Legal Project, the Greek Ombudsman has found that the Reception and Identification Service (RIS) of the Samos Closed Controlled Access Centre (CCAC) unlawfully restricts lawyers’ access to the site. In the complaint, the organisations highlighted the multiple barriers in place for lawyers to perform their work and for asylum seekers to receive their right to legal counsel. The complaint detailed:
- The unlawful and arbitrary requirements from the RIS for lawyers to provide prior notice to enter the CCAC. The organisations argued this was an over-restriction given the special entry status of lawyers for the provision of legal assistance.
- The lawyers’ accompaniment by security staff when visiting the CCAC as this obstructs their communication with clients and is a potential violation of their privacy.
- The isolated location of the CCAC makes it difficult for asylum seekers to access legal support, with the irregular and infrequent bus schedule meaning that clients cannot easily reach the offices of the organisations in town.
- The strict rules and curfew place significant restrictions on asylum seekers’ ability to exit and enter the CCAC which further restricts clients access to lawyers.
The Greek Ombudsman found that current practices insisted upon by the RIS of lawyers entry to the CCAC are overly restrictive and not in line with the Lawyers’ Code (Article 34(2)), which states that the simple presentation of the lawyer’s identity and the signature of the lawyers in the entry book are sufficient conditions for their entry. The Ombudsman found that the RIS cannot require lawyers to give a one-day notice when visiting their clients in the CCAC. The Ombudsman also found that given the short deadlines involved in the asylum procedure, it is important that there are no unnecessary formalities and that the CCAC authorities should show flexibility.
Full Greek Ombudsman Response here.