Public discussion on the application of free legal aid in asylum procedures

On July 12th 2016, Macedonian Young Lawyers Association organized and held a public discussion on “The implementation of free legal aid in the procedure for asylum” within the project “Improvement of the protection of rights and services for migrants and asylum seekers in Macedonia” supported by Foundation Open Society Institute Macedonia.

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The participants discussed the needs and challenges faced by the main actors in the free legal aid system and addressed issues related to the asylum procedure in Macedonia, as well as questions on effectuating the state free legal aid system and the provision of quality and effective legal aid to end users.

The participants were representatives of civic associations and lawyers, accordingly registered in the Registers of associations and lawyers who provide free legal aid; representatives of regional divisions of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Macedonia, a representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a consultant from the Foundation Open Society Institute Macedonia, as well as an expert in the field of legal assistance representing the Twinning project for strengthening the rule of law which the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Macedonia implemented together with the Ministries of Justice of the Republic of Latvia and the Republic of Croatia.

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The panelists’ various professional backgrounds were united in a common cause – getting asylum seekers in Macedonia closer to its institutions and the information related to their status and rights in the country, as well as to the procedure of acquiring the right of asylum.

The productive discussion resulted with conclusions and recommendations regarding the need to improve the Law on free legal aid, as well as improve its implementation and the need to establish a model for an inter-institutional cooperation.