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Legal and judicial assistance for asylum seekers

IATI Identifier: BE-BCE_KBO-0447404580-BURUEREF133601IN

Published on IATI
  • date_range Dec 09, 2013 - Dec 08, 2015
  • autorenew Finalisation (Status)

Since the nineteen sixties Burundi has been confronted to important migration flows linked to constant instability in the Great Lakes region. At the end of last June, there were 6,397 asylum seekers and 44,034 refugees in the country. Although the capacity of the authorities to protect these populations remains limited, the protective environment itself is rather favourable to such protection. First of all, the legislative framework guarantees a process of admission observing certain security conditions, the prohibition of forcible returns and that the norms regulating their treatment are respectful of the rights of refugees. Burundi has ratified the instruments that are central to the regime of international protection of refugees: the Geneva Convention 1951 and its Additional Protocol from 1967, as well as the OAU Convention regulating aspects that are specific to the problems of refugees in Africa and which the asylum seekers can rely on to claim a wider definition of International Protection. As an exceptional regional measure, the protection instruments have been integrated into national legislation. The Burundian judicial arsenal has established the principle of non-refoulement and guarantees the application of the rights to work and education, and access to identity documents. The law establishes ONPRA (National Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons) as the current body to manage asylum, to elaborate new plans of action, to liaise with the HCR, the border police and provincial authorities and to coordinate the aid and protection interventions in the camps. Finally it guarantees the right to legal counsel for asylum seekers during the refugee status determination procedure and organises legal representation in case of refusal at first instance. Despite this legal arsenal, asylum seekers have limited access to asylum procedures, due to the unavailability of free assistance services and a lack of knowledge of the law and procedures. Confronted to linguistic, bureaucratic and procedural barriers they do not benefit of any support in obtaining individual documents and civil status documents, which are precisely required to prove their nationality and access the personal status of refugee. Some are denied the status at first instance because of a lack of legal support. In the absence of available or adequate legal representation, their requests for appeal fail before the appeals committee. Also the insufficient protection and lack of legal assistance for refugees shows that obtaining the refugee status does not automatically allow for the enjoyment of the rights guaranteed by the Geneva Convention or national legislation. Active in Burundi since 1999, ASF is implementing since January 2012 a project of international protection of the rights of asylum seekers and refugees (PIDDAR), with the objective of « reinforcing the measures of protection and assistance for refugees and asylum seekers and to promote asylum and the international protection of refugees in Burundi ». The intervention strategy focuses on the respect of equitable procedures for the determination of the refugee status but also on improving legal aid and advice for refugees and asylum seekers, as well as individuals amongst that group who are victims of sexual violence. The project comes to support the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (HCR) and the National Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (ONPRA), a technical structure set up by the Burundian Minister of State to determine the refugee status. Activities: 1. Reception, guidance and legal assistance - The PIDDAR project provides legal advice for asylum seekers throughout all phases of the procedure. The advice is given in any area related to asylum law, procedure and refugees rights. The centres will provide various services such as greeting, informing and guiding asylum seekers or refugees confronted to problems of law (violations of the right to health, etc.). Questions that do not concern the areas of intervention mentioned above are referred to the available services (IRC, HI, etc.) - The legal services of the project will greet refugees and asylum seekers who need legal assistance for any question related to the asylum procedure, protection documents, civil status documents, etc. The project systematically assists asylum seekers whose demands have been dismissed in the first instance and provides for their legal representation before the appeals committee. 2. Judicial assistance Judicial assistance is offered to vulnerable individuals in areas of gross violation of fundamental rights, sexual violence, illegal pre-trial detention, incarceration of women and minors and torture. 3. Actions of reinforcement of local competences. The PIDDAR project looks to emancipate both the rights holders by promoting their access to simplified legal information and their aptitude to claim them, and the people carrying obligations and providing services by reinforcing their knowledge of their responsibilities and their capacities to honour them by respecting, promoting and simplifying the efficient exercise of the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. 4. Raising awareness and pleading Awareness will be raised amongst refugees and asylum seekers as to the rights and obligations of refugees. The procedures and the process undergone by the asylum applications from the moment they are submitted up to the definitive decision of recognition of the status or rejection of the application for asylum, will be supported during those sessions, in a participatory manner.;


Participating Organisations

Avocats Sans Frontières National NGO Accountable
Avocats Sans Frontières National NGO Implementing
European Union Other Public Sector Funding
UNHCR Other Public Sector Funding
Office National de Protection des Réfugiés et Apatrides (ONPRA) National NGO Implementing


Transaction Value Provider
Type Date


1,087,257 USD
  • 839,562 EUR (Valued at Dec 09, 2012)
    date_range Dec 09, 2012 - Dec 08, 2015
access_time Updated on Dec 18, 2018 11:25:56
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