Author: Carlos

Trial Observation Report – Moria 35

Observation report – Moria 35 – VERSION COMPLETE AVEC LES ANNEXES

Earlier in the year a delegation of lawyers and jurists from Avocats Sans Frontières (France), Gisti (France), Migreurop (France), European Democratic Layers (The Netherlands), Dutch League of Human Rights (The Netherlands) and the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers (UK), attended the trial of the ‘Moria 35’, which ended with the conviction of 32 of the 35 defendants for dangerous bodily harm.

Serious concerns have since been raised regarding the way in which the trial was conducted, with numerous human rights violations being identified by the observers present.

The above constitutes the final report from the Trial Observation Committee.  For updates as to what has occurred since the trial, please see the latest updates on our website:

CROWDFUNDING: Help us defend 35 Refugees denied of their human rights


Legal Centre Lesvos is urgently raising funds to provide effective legal defence for Refugees facing criminal charges following a peaceful protest in Moria Detention camp in Greece.

Help us defend their human rights.

About the campaign

On 18 July 2017, police violently raided the overcrowded open-air Moria Detention camp on the island of Lesvos in Greece, arbitrarily arresting 35 individuals – the vast majority of African-origin or descent.  This, in response to a peaceful protest earlier that day by Refugees of all nationalities for freedom of movement and against inhumane camp conditions, which was also met by police brutality, outside the EU Asylum Office. Many of those arrested were not even present at the protest.

To highlight the seriousness of this case and the extent of police violence, Amnesty International have called on Greek authorities to immediately investigate excessive use of force amounting to possible torture.  An investigation has now been opened into dangerous bodily harm committed by unknown police officers.

The Moria 35 each face criminal charges which may lead to up to 10 years in prison, exclusion to the right to international protection and deportation to countries they fled.

Who are Legal Centre Lesvos and how can we all help?

Legal Centre Lesvos works on the expertise of a small International and Greek team of professionals and volunteer international lawyers and law students.  Hosted in the Mosaik Refugee Support centre in Lesvos, we provide free Refugee legal support.  We are not government funded and every resource goes towards those at the heart of our project.

Having represented 34 of the 35 defendants at their initial hearings, Legal Centre Lesvos led the creation of a criminal defence team of Greek lawyers, continues to represent six defendants, and is now helping to coordinate the work of the criminal defense team. The trial is expected for early 2018.  We are urgently raising funds to cover the costs of legal representation, associated administrative and court fees and a team of independent trial observers to ensure international oversight and accountability in this highly politicised trial.

With limited time remaining we must urgently raise £10,000 to help achieve justice for the Moria 35.

Please consider donating to help us achieve the target.
We also need you to share:  Be our voice!

Strasbourg Court halts return of rejected asylum seeker to Turkey

As reported here by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles

Strasbourg Court halts return of rejected asylum seeker to Turkey – 30th June 2017

Last week the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) granted interim measures under Rule 39 of the Rules of the Court to prevent the return of a rejected asylum seeker to Turkey under the EU-Turkey deal.

The applicant, a national of Pakistan and member of the Ahmadi minority, has had his asylum application rejected as unfounded at both first and second instance and is currently on the island of Lesvos. An application for interim measures has been filed before the Administrative Court of Mytilene against his readmission to Turkey, although such measures have no suspensive effect under national law. The ECtHR requested the Greek authorities to suspend the return of the individual to Turkey until the Administrative Court of Mytilene issues its decision. The Strasbourg Court also ordered the case to be prioritised.

Since the adoption of the EU-Turkey deal on 18 March 2016, more than 1,200 people have been returned from Greece to Turkey. The majority of those returned are nationals of Pakistan.

For further information:

Premiere of ‘Inadmissible’ in Science Po Univeristy, Paris

On Friday 14 April members of Legal Centre Lesvos participated in a meeting at Science Po, which featured a documentary prepared by Thraedable, as part of a collaboration which looks to support the Legal Centre in its aim to defend the rights of refugees in Lesvos whilst also raising awareness of the situation on the Island.

The documentary featured interviews of refugees as well as volunteers of the legal centre.  Questions from the audience followed as well as the unveiling of Thraedable’s new T-Shirts, which will go on sale soon.  50% of the profits from the sale of these shirts will go towards funding the Legal Centre’s work.

Inadmissible can be viewed here.

Further showings are also planned to take place soon.  For more information about Thraedable and to order shirts when they become available, go to:

Denying the right to asylum in Greece – in numbers

Why are refugees trying to leave Lesvos & Greece to get to the rest of Europe? These statistics are just one reason. Despite a Common European Asylum System, asylum seekers in Greece do not have the same chance of protection as in the rest of Europe. (Source Eurostat)

2016 saw a significant drop in approval rating for non-Syrian asylum seekers in Greece, while approval rating in the rest of Europe has been increasing. (Source Eurostat)

Bengali applicants 

Under 5% of Bengali asylum seekers in Greece are approved at the first instance, while the European average is over 20%. (Source Eurostat)

Pakistani applicants 

Under 5% of Pakistani asylum seekers in Greece are approved at the first instance, while the European average is much higher. (Source Eurostat)

Syrian applicants 

Syrian asylum seekers see dramatic drop in approval ratings after the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement in March 2016. (Source Eurostat)

NIGERIAN applicants 

Under 10% of Nigerian asylum seekers in Greece are approved at the first instance, while the European average is much higher. (Source Eurostat)

Afghan applicants

Afghans seeking asylum are also more likely to have their applications rejected in Greece than the rest of Europe. (Source Eurostat)

State Council Hearing on Turkey as ‘Safe Third Country’

On 10 March 2017 the State Council, one of the highest courts in Greece which deals with cases concerning administrative law, heard preliminary arguments relating to the controversial issue of Turkey’s consideration as a ‘Safe Third Country’, amongst other issues regarding the Greek Asylum System.

Lawyers from Pro Asyl, the Greek Refugee Council and Metadrasi were responsible for bringing cases on behalf of asylum seekers from Syria raising serious concerns about the possible consequences of sending asylum seekers back to a country which is not a signatory of the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. The submissions focused primarily on the temporary nature of the ‘protection’ provided by the Turkish authorities, along with the generally unmonitored situation vis a vis refoulement from Turkey to other countries.  The representatives also  argued that in light of the recent decision on 28 February of the Court of Justice of the European Union (‘CJEU’), the Greek authorities should not take into consideration the EU – Turkey Statement when deciding upon the suitability of sending asylum seekers back to Turkey.

Issues relating to the independence of the appeals committees following their re-constitution last year and the potentially unlawful involvement of EASO in interviews were also raised.

All parties were given 7 days to provide written submissions for the court to consider prior to deciding upon the cases.

The Legal Centre has consistently denounced the EU Turkey deal for its acceptance of Turkey as a  ‘Safe Third Country’ and notes the call by the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to add Turkey to its list of countries considered undemocratic as a another example of EU member states hypocrisy in dealing with this issue.

IADL Agrees to Partner with the Legal Centre

On 22 January 2017, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers accepted an application by Legal Centre Lesvos to partner with the project.

Considering its history of working with progressive movements across the world against war, colonialism and racism, we are very excited about the possibility to work with the IADL to strengthen our efforts in solidarity with the refugees of Lesvos.

Below is the application we sent to IADL at the end of 2016. Continue reading “IADL Agrees to Partner with the Legal Centre”

Moria Community Leaders Demand Respect for Refugee Rights in Lesvos

In the face of months of horrible conditions and delayed procedures in Moria Refugee Camp, refugee community leaders have come together to defend their rights and dignity, despite the many obstacles they face. Copied below is the letter with recommendations that was sent by representatives of refugee communities in Moria Camp to Maarten Verwey, Coordinator of the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement. Please share, and call on Mr. Verwey and your European Commission representatives to respond. Continue reading “Moria Community Leaders Demand Respect for Refugee Rights in Lesvos”