Non-RSD Legal Aid: The need for other legal services

Many refugee rights organizations spend most or all of their legal aid efforts on ensuring their clients receive refugee status. This is a natural priority because formal recognition is the first step to accessing other fundamental human rights and building a new life. Nonetheless, formal legal status means very little if your clients are unable to access the other rights protected by the Refugee Convention. Without the right to safe and legal employment, to send their children to school, to access healthcare and other social services, and to secure protection from further injustice, refugees will remain dependent on humanitarian assistance indefinitely. This dependence will prevent them from taking back control of their lives.

This explains why Asylum Access and other refugee rights organizations work on a broad range of rights issues beyond non-refoulement. Asylum Access currently manages helps its clients demand equal enjoyment of virtually all of the Convention and other internationally-recognized rights.

The Challenges

RSD procedures often have many elements in common. This makes it easier to develop strategies and protocols based on other countries and regions. However, non-RSD rights are commonly implemented through domestic civil rights law, which causes them to vary widely from country to country and makes it difficult to formulate a uniform approach.