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Greek Ombudsman finds that CCAC is unlawfully restricting access to lawyers

On the island of Samos, asylum-seekers reside in the Closed and Controlled Access Centre (CCAC) which is located about 9 km away from Vathy, the main city. Several legal aid organizations’ offices are in the city and the remote location of the structure therefore constitutes a first restriction of asylum seekers and refugees’ access to legal assistance. Said access has been further restricted by arbitrary and unlawful practices imposed by the management of the CCAC on lawyers to access the camp. 



The lawyers of Avocats Sans Frontieres France, with the assistance of the lawyers of I Have Rights and the Human Rights Legal Project, submitted a report to the Ombudsperson regarding the arbitrary and unlawful practices of the Administration of the CCAC which impose excessive restrictions on their free entry to the Camp. The organizations pinpointed specific practices that constitute excessive limitations on their free entry to public services. Such restrictions violate the Lawyer’s Code and, most importantly, result in the restriction of refugees' rights to legal assistance.


One of the issues raised was the Administration's requirement for lawyers to submit written requests for permission to enter at least one day prior to entry and attach a power of attorney to represent the person they intend to visit. Upon the lawyers' entry, they indicated restrictive practices by security guards' employees further obstructing their entry (for example confiscating their lawyer’s ID or requesting for the written approval of the camp manager). Once lawyers are allowed inside, they are often accompanied by security guards during the entire time of their visit, which directly violates  the privacy of their communications with their clients. Furthermore,   frequent, sudden and arbitrary changes in practices result in insecurity and, of course, further obstructions and delays in applicants’ right to legal counsel. 


After communicating with the administration, the Ombudsperson addressed a letter to the CCAC indicating that the aforementioned practices are restrictive and calls on the Administration not to impose limitations beyond what is absolutely necessary. For example, the Ombudsperson  considers that the mere presentation of the lawyer's identity card and the information of the Administration on the spot is a sufficient condition for the entry of lawyers. Regarding the escort by security employees, they emphasize that the Administration’s answers were not sufficient and call on them to take appropriate measures to ensure that lawyers can freely communicate with their clients in conditions of confidentiality.


Lastly, they request that the camp management take into account the nature of the legal profession and to show flexibility given the short deadlines in border procedures and the demanding conditions faced by the lawyers working with applicants for international protection residing in the camp.



Greek-Ombudsmans-reply-for-restrictions-to-lawyers-access-to-Samos-CCAC-1-1
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1.Refugee Support Aegean, Samos. Available at <https://rsaegean.org/en/samos-2023/

2.Art. 34 par. 2 of the Lawyers’ Code. Law 4194/2013

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