On 24-25 April 2017, 14 experts providing legal aid to migrants and refugees in Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, and Russia gathered at the Centre of Development of Legal Clinics to discuss the potentials of cooperation between legal clinics and NGOs working in this field in Russia.
The main idea of this project of the Forum’s Legal Dialogue Programme is to actively involve law students in practical work with migrants and refugees through strengthening the capacities of existing (specialised) legal clinics and developing additional cooperation formats between legal clinics and NGOs. Together, they can extend their outreach and support each another for mutual benefit: Whereas legal clinics could offer case specific and individual legal support, NGOs could provide expertise and infrastructure, which in turn is to the benefit of migrants and refugees.
The meeting gave an overview of the issues faced by both legal clinics and NGOs in Russia. On the other hand, it unveiled various discrepancies in the field of migration and asylum that are shared in the EU and Russia. This exchange opportunity was perceived as useful by participants from both sides.
Ulrich Stege, Director of the Clinical Legal Education Programme at the International University College of Torino, Founding and Board Member of ENCLE (European Network for Clinical Legal Education), said upon the end of the meeting:
‘It was a very interesting meeting from different perspectives. It gave us a closer look at the world of legal clinics and the situation of migrants and refugees in Russia. It is remarkable, how strong the legal clinics movement already is in Russia, but also surprising that, different to most other countries, in the field of migration and asylum, there is not much interaction going on at the universities. It would be great to continue our work in this direction and strengthen the cooperation between EU and Russian initiatives.’
The main outcome of the workshop was an agreement on the production of a guide for Russian legal clinics potentially interested in working with refugees and migrants – together with NGOs – and on cooperation in the organisation of specialised trainings for law students in Russia in 2017.