Legal assistance for review of detention


Country Report: Legal assistance for review of detention Last updated: 08/06/23


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Article 50(7) Asylum Code provides that ‘detainees who are applicants for international protection shall be entitled to free legal assistance and representation to challenge the detention order…’

In practice, no free legal aid system has been set up to challenge their detention. Free legal assistance for detained asylum seekers provided by NGOs cannot sufficiently address the needs and in any event cannot exempt the Greek authorities from their obligation to provide free legal assistance and representation to asylum seekers in detention, as foreseen by the recast Reception Conditions Directive.[1] This continued to be the case in 2022, where only two to three NGOs were providing free legal assistance to detainees with limited resources and less than 10 lawyers in total focusing on detention countrywide. No free legal aid is provided in order a detainee to challenge their detention decision before Courts, contrary to national and EU law. In 2022, out of the total 18,966 detention orders issued, only 5,011 (26.4%) were challenged before a Court.

CPT findings from 2018 confirm that ‘the information provided was insufficient – particularly concerning their (legal) situation […] there was an almost total lack of available interpretation services in all the establishments visited […] access to a lawyer often remained theoretical and illusory for those who did not have the financial means to pay for the services of a lawyer […] As a result, detainees’ ability to raise objections against their detention or deportation decisions or to lodge an appeal against their deportation was conditional on them being able to access a lawyer’.[2] This situation remained unchanged during 2022.

As mentioned above in two 2019 ECtHR judgments, by taking into consideration inter alia the lack of legal aid to challenge the detention order the Court found a violation of Art 5(4).[3] This was also the case in another Court’s judgment in 2021.[4]




[1]  Article 9(6) recast Reception Conditions Directive.

[2] CPT, Report to the Greek Government on the visit to Greece carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 10 to 19 April 2018, CPT/Inf (2019) 4, 19 February 2019, available at:, paras 78-80.

[3] ECtHR, O.S.A. v. Greece, Application No 39065/16, Judgment of 21 March 2019, available in Greek at:; ECtHR, Kaak v. Greece, Application No 34215/16, Judgment of 3 October 2019, available in Greek at:

[4]  ECtHR, E.K. v. Greece, 15 January 2021, available 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