Bar Association asks its members to provide legal aid pro bono to migrants detained in Czech Republic

Detention centre in Bělá pod Bezdězem, photo: Czech Television

The Czech Bar Association has urged its members to offer their services to the foreign migrants held in Czech detention centres. Many are held in detention, without money, no knowledge of the Czech language, and no chance, on their own, of obtaining legal help.

Štěpán Holub,  photo: archive of Holubová advokáti
I spoke to Štěpán Holub, the lawyer coordinating the volunteer effort.

“The Czech Bar Association received many alerts as well as information in the media about the unpleasant situation in facilities holding refugees. The fact that they do not have proper access to legal aid is something that was apparent to the association, leading the body to ask members, its lawyers, to provide legal services pro bono if they could to migrants who need it or have requested it.”

The justice minister has himself said that these are people who have not committed a crime as well as been critical of conditions in some of these camps or facilities. The problem is compounded by language barriers or some cases, reportedly, where refugees are not cooperating with the authorities. So how does all this shape up?

“The Bar Association is taking a position similar to the justice minister’s; it makes no moral pronouncement but simply an appeal, underlining the fact that these people need legal help and do not have the means to pay for it, that is why we are asking members who can to provide help pro bono.”

Detention centre in Bělá pod Bezdězem,  photo: Czech Television
Do you expect that many migrants who are being held will launch legal proceedings against the Czech Republic for their detainment?

“It is very possible. Migrants have the possibility to appeal, they can submit their case to the administrative court and it is very likely that in some cases they will be successful.”