Free legal assistance and representation is provided by refugee counsellors under the same conditions as in other cases of judicial review (see Regular Procedure: Legal Assistance). No additional condition to access free legal assistance is imposed in detention cases.
In practice, assistance in accessing refugee counsellors used to be provided by PIC lawyers who represented the applicants in first instance procedures. In April 2020, the AMIF project through which PIC lawyers provided legal help and representation ended and the Ministry of Interior did not issue a new public call since. PIC continued these activities with limited capacity. Asylum seekers without legal representation in the first instance had problems with ensuring the assistance of refugee legal counsellors in practice. Together with the detention order, asylum seekers are given a list of refugee legal counsellors, and instructed to secure their assistance by themselves. If they do not secure a refugee counsellor themselves, they can call the Migration directorate and an official will provide one for them.
Due to language barriers, illiteracy, lack of access to a telephone and a short deadline to lodge the appeal, some asylum seekers could not appeal their detention order. In some cases, asylum seekers obtained more than one refugee counsellor and more than one appeal was lodged at the Administrative Court. The Migration directorate does not know whether an individual has managed to ensure the representation of a refugee counsellor, and therefore often does not provide individuals with one in practice.
In accordance with established practice, lawyers can meet with their clients in detention even outside of the daily visitation hours. PIC lawyers are available to detained applicants by telephone and usually meet with them in person a few times per month.