This page provides information on Legal Contacts - to facilitate access to free legal assistance - and Legal Resources - to offer the information necessary for legal service providers in adjudicating an Refugee Status Determination (RSD) claim. This is achieved through providing relevant legal instruments in refugee law, links to general resources as well as links specific to the RSD process.
This section contains a centralised database of contact details of free legal assistance providers in over 230 countries, a database of country of origin experts, and information on legal processes relating to refugees.
The link above provides a list of pro bono legal assistance providers and is a directory of organisations, lawyers, and others who are able to assist refugees free-of-charge in legal matters and help secure refugee rights. This list may also be of use to legal providers assembling and arguing cases elsewhere in the world for information on country of origin, case development, and other help.
Our list of country of origin information (COI) experts and organisations that provide COI will be of use to legal assistance providers in need of expert reports for particular countries to support asylum cases and other refugee-related legal proceedings.
UNHCR is attempting to put each of its Country Offices online and it so far has only a few, but it could be worthwhile checking their site by clicking the link above.
A number of UNHCR operations can be contacted through Facebook and Messenger, see here . Go to Facebook and type in ‘UNHCR’ and the name of the country you may be assisting a refugee in, for example type ‘UNHCR Kenya’.
International Legal Instruments relevant to Refugee Law
The link above provides a short guide on the 1951 convention and its main provisions. For a more comprehensive guide by UNHCR, see the ‘Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status under the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees’.
A repository of policy and guidance documents that is updated whenever a new protection policy or guidance document is published and can thus be relied upon to represent the current state of UNHCR protection policy and guidance. UNHCR guidance and policy documents are organised by theme/subject, as reflected in the Protection Manual's Table of Contents. Subjects include legal topics (for example, UNHCR guidance on the different elements of the refugee definition) and operational protection guidance (for example, on 'asylum-seekers at sea', or 'age, gender and diversity'). Under each heading, documents are arranged in reverse chronological order with each document individually accessible through a hyperlink.
One of the best advisors on immigration and asylum law is Free Movement . Please note that membership is required to access the content, but non members can access 15 blog pages per month before being blocked from seeing the content.
RSD Specific resources
The provision of medical evidence in Refugee Status Determination (RSD) procedures is fraught with challenges. Medical reports documenting asylum seekers’ physical and/or mental health are increasingly being used within RSD proceedings as objective evidence to support asylum claims.
A method for conducting RSD adjudication is with psychosocial support. Information and materials on the importance of psychosocial support before, during and after refugee status determination is provided in the link above.
Understanding and application of psychological science in the asylum process is important to ensure that adjudication is fair, lessening the risk of denying protection to refugees. In the link above, we present a brief introduction to the psychological research that can be drawn on in representing people seeking international protection and adjudication of claims. You will also find links to further resources.
Asylum seekers have the right to legal representation at all stages of refugee status determination procedure and may have a legal representative accompany them to their RSD interviews at UNHCR. This guide is intended to assist legal advocates to provide the best possible advocacy during the RSD interviews at UNHCR. : Accompanying Clients to RSD Interviews at the UNHCR .
This link provides a list of databases issuing municipal and international Case Law material.
Accessing Regional Human Rights Bodies: A Guide
States and their institutions can often fail to provide adequate help for refugees and asylum seekers. When a decision reached by a state is considered to be in breach of regional rules regarding the adequate treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, it is possible to challenge that decision before regional human rights bodies. Please see below to find information on each region:
. Court of Justice of the European Union (Only national courts can access this court)