Legal assistance for review of detention


Country Report: Legal assistance for review of detention Last updated: 10/07/24


Teresa Fachinger, Paula Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik and Marlene Stiller

 Changes following the Act on the Improvement of Removals 2024:

  • Detainees who are not yet represented by a lawyer are to be provided with a lawyer by the court[1]


If asylum applications are lodged by persons in detention, applicants shall immediately be given an opportunity to contact a lawyer of their choice, unless they have already secured legal counsel.[2]

In general, persons in detention pending removal have the right to contact legal representatives, family members, the competent consular representation and relevant aid and support organisations.[3] In a case concerning detention pending removal, the Constitutional Court ruled in May 2018 that barriers to a lawyer’s access to the Eichstätt facility were not in line with the constitution. In this case, the management of the facility had advised the lawyer that the next available opportunity to contact her client was on the day of the removal.[4] Moreover, in many detention facilities no contact information of available lawyers is provided by the detention administration or social services.

However, an applicant usually has to cover the costs for legal representation for the purpose of judicial review of detention and representation in the asylum procedure. There is a possibility to apply for legal aid in the context of judicial review of detention, but this is rarely granted since legal aid is dependent on how the court rates the chances of success. Some NGOs or support groups provide access to funds to pay for legal representation, but cannot do so systematically.[5]

In October 2022, a coalition of over 50 NGOs, including PRO ASYL, Amnesty International, welfare associations and lawyer associations, published a position paper to demand free legal representation of all persons subject to detention, pointing to the frequent errors in detention orders as well as the high number of detention cases fond to be unlawful by courts.[6] While legal changes adopted in late 2022 did not address this issue, sicne the entry into force of the Act on the improvement of Return in February 2024 detainees who are not yet represented by a lawyer will be provided with a lawyer by the court. However as of April 2024 it is not yet clear how this will be implemented and guaranteed.




[1] Deutscher Bundestag, Recommendation for a resolution and report of the Committee on Home Affairs and Community (4th Committee) on the Federal Government’s draft bill of the Act to Improve Removals (Entwurf eines Gesetzes zur Verbesserung der Rückführung (Rückführungsverbesserungsgesetz)), available in German at:, 8; new Section 62d Residence Act.

[2] Section 14(3) Asylum Act.

[3] Section 62a II of the Residence Act.

[4] Federal Constitutional Court, Decision 2 BvQ 45/18, 22 May 2018, available in German at:

[5] Information provided by by the Caritasverband Karlsruhe e. V. who offers counselling in the detention centre together with the Diakonie Rastatt (see for more information).

[6] Flüchtlingsrat Brandenburg, Gesetzeslücke endlich schließen: Menschen in Abschiebehaft brauchen einen Pflichtanwalt!, 12 October 2022, available in German at:

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