Legal counseling is the key to refugees' rights

Legal counseling is the key to refugees’ rights

Professional legal counseling equips refugees with the means to navigate and participate in the Danish society. Some are dealing with asylum rejections, while others are unaware of their rights to maternity leave. Across a diversity of situations, Asrin Mesbah offers legal advice on a daily basis, in the safe environment of Trampoline House.

By Mona Torbensen

On a busy day, there are up to 20 visitors at Trampoline House’s legal counseling. Here sits cand.jur. Asrin Mesbah and answers questions regarding family law, social law and immigration law. It may be questions concerning the asylum process and family reunification, but also often about employment, maternity leave and divorce: “We had a woman come thinking she only had the right to 12 weeks maternity leave. She was publically employed and actually had the right to a year of paid leave,” explains Asrin and concludes:

“There are many people in society who are unaware of their right, and therefore can’t make use of them”.

Cand.jur. Asrin Mesbah’s legal counseling makes it easier for refugees to become a proper part of society. Photo: Sofia Stærmose Hardt.

Cand.jur. Asrin Mesbah’s legal counseling makes it easier for refugees to become a proper part of society. Photo: Sofia Stærmose Hardt.

Advice in a safe environment

Asrin speaks both Danish, English, Farsi and Kurdish, and in most cases can communicate directly with those who come to her for advice.

“People open up in a different way, when there is an advisor who can speak the same language as them and when there isn’t a third party translator”, says Asrin.

The legal advice takes place in Trampoline House, which many see as their ‘second home’. This creates a safe environment: “They know that I am a part of the house and independent of the authorities”, explains Asrin. When the asylum process often demands intense and in-depth conversations with authorities, it can be particularly valuable to speak to someone of an independent organisation.

Speaking the language of the law

The language is not only a challenge for those who are refugees or new to Denmark. Juridical formulations can be almost impossible to understand – at times even for a lawyer. “Often formulations are convoluted. A woman was sent a letter from the court where I myself had to consult a lawyer to figure out what they meant” admits Asrin.

It is precisely the consultation with other proficient lawyers that ensures the quality of the Trampoline House’s advice. Asrin explains:

“The legal counseling in Trampoline House is assisted by immigration lawyers once a week, who I can consult with if I have particularly tricky cases. It is a very expansive legal area, and the legislation is constantly changing.”

Support refugees’ rights

Integration doesn’t just happen by itself – and especially not if you’re not familier with how rule of law works. Our counseling is dependent on the financial support from individuals. If you, your partner or your mother would also be able to support our work with a recurring donation, it would make a great difference to our work.

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