Government’s analysis, assessment and research activities
Report: Room for improvement in asylum seekers' access to legal aid
The status of asylum seekers as legal aid clients has been studied by means of interviews and questionnaires. According to the study, there is significant variation in the quality of legal counsels' work. Asylum seekers, legal counsels and authorities do not have a common understanding of what legal aid at the initial stage of an asylum process should encompass.
A specific objective of the study was to find out what kind of effects the amendments made in 2016 to the legislation governing asylum seekers' access to legal aid have had. The shortened appeal periods have not, according to the persons interviewed, expedited the processing of appeals but made the submission of appeals more difficult instead. Private legal counsels regard the fees paid for assisting asylum seekers too low.
The report proposes several measures to improve the situation. Immediate access to legal aid after submission of an asylum application should be guaranteed for all asylum seekers, as this would make the entire process more effective. A sufficient number of competent legal counsels dealing with asylum matters should be ensured. The normal length of the appeal periods at the administrative courts and the Supreme Administrative Court should be restored.
The study was conducted as part of the more extensive research project Towards equal and high-quality legal aid services. The final report of the project will be published in October 2019.
The report is part of the implementation of the 2018 Government plan for analysis, assessment and research (www.tietokayttoon.fi).
Inquiries: Outi Lepola, Senior Researcher, Migration Institute of Finland, tel. +358 40 159 4645, outi.lepola(at)utu.fi