Independent asylum procedure advice

If refugees have access to independent, free asylum counseling, this has a positive effect on the rule of
law, fairness, quality and efficiency of the asylum procedure. Asylum counseling does not lead to delays
and supports the BAMF in the identification of persons with special protection needs (for example
traumatized, sick and disabled). These are our experiences u.a. from the BAMF pilot project Asylum
Procedures Advice, which was evaluated by the Research Center of the BAMF in cooperation with
UNHCR Germany.

The introduction of comprehensive, free and qualified asylum counseling is a long-standing demand of
charities and UNHCR. The Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration
also calls for the introduction of early asylum procedure advice in the light of appropriate regulations in
the EU Commission’s proposal for an EU Asylum Procedures Regulation. Other EU countries have already
had good experiences with independent and unpaid asylum counseling and also ensure free legal
representation.

With the aim of speeding up proceedings, fast procedures have been introduced in Germany in recent
years, the duty to co-operate with asylum seekers has been extended, new sanctions have been created
and information on return counseling and counseling has been introduced and expanded. The existing
quality deficiencies in the asylum procedure are just as well known as extremely short appeal periods in
the asylum procedure and in the deportation. Under the circumstances mentioned, it is difficult for
asylum seekers to recognize their rights and obligations and to present their escape history
appropriately in the asylum procedure. The danger of official wrong decisions is great, the consequences
of wrong decisions are often life-threatening.

Those seeking protection need early, free and independent asylum counseling so that their rights to
protection, which they are entitled to under German Basic Law, German and European law, the Geneva
Refugee Convention or international human rights law, can also become reality. In Germany, such a
range of counseling services currently exists only to a limited extent and only where federal states,
churches, charitable organizations or NGOs finance it. The existing counseling services offered by the
migration services supported by federal funds do not include legal advice in the asylum procedure.
The associations of the BAGFW demand,

  • that nationwide all those seeking protection have access to free, independent asylum counseling before and during the asylum procedure,
  • stable asylum funding is provided for asylum procedure counseling, which not only includes sufficient counseling capacities, but also language assessment and legal guidance and support in accordance with the provisions of the Legal Services Act;
  • that the structural, in particular time frame conditions are created for a good asylum procedure consultation. This requires, among other things, sufficient time window for asylum procedure advice in all asylum procedures.