Legal assistance for review of detention


Country Report: Legal assistance for review of detention Last updated: 08/04/22


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Legal assistance for persons held in administrative detention (including asylum seekers) is provided by law. Currently, six NGOs which assist foreigners are authorised, by agreement (public procurement) with the Ministry of Interior, to provide “on duty” legal advice in CRA. As they are being informed of all new people arriving in the centre, they inform the detainees and help them to exercise their rights during the detention procedure (hearings in front of the judge, the filing of an appeal, request for legal aid etc.)[1] These NGOs are present in the administrative detention centres quasi-permanently (5 to 6 days a week). Some of these NGOs have set aside a budget to hire interpreters to assist detainees who do not speak French or English, whereas others resort to volunteers.

Conversely, no legal assistance is provided in LRA.

As for the assistance given by lawyers, the law foresees that foreigners held in administrative detention can be assisted for free by a lawyer for their appeals (during the hearing) in front of the administrative court or for their presentation in front of the JLD. In practice, detainees can benefit from this assistance provided for free. Therefore, for the prolongation of administrative detention by the JLD, Article R.552-6 Ceseda foresees that “the foreigner is informed of their right to choose a lawyer. The judge can appoint one automatically if the foreigner so requests”. Within the context of the procedure in front of the administrative court, “the foreigner can, at the latest at the start of the hearing, ask for a lawyer to be appointed automatically. They are informed by the Clerk of the Court at the time of the beginning of their request.”[2]

With regard to the confidentiality granted to the discussions between lawyers and their clients when they meet within the detention centres, the situation can vary from one centre to the other. An office with frosted windows is usually provided. It is however very rare that lawyers agree to go to the detention centres, as detention centres are usually located quite far from the city centre. Lawyers can easily contact their clients by calling a public phone or by calling the NGO present in the centre that will make sure the call is forwarded to the detainee.



[1]           French Public Administration, Rights of Foreigners Placed in Detention, available in French at:

[2]           Article R.776-22 CJA.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation