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Know your Rights

Article

Alfred Landecker Democracy Fellow Katarzyna Słubik is the President of the Board at the Association for Legal Intervention in Warsaw.

The access and right to justice and an effective legal remedy are cornerstones of democratic societies. Migrants in Poland are in a disadvantaged position in terms of exercising their rights to participation and effective remedies in migration procedures.

Language or cultural barriers, lack of knowledge of the Polish legal system, and the lack of funds prevent them from seeking appropriate legal remedies. Sadly, decision-makers take advantage of these vulnerabilities and systematically violate the migrants` rights. Those problems are now amplified by COVID-19, as the scope of free legal assistance has significantly decreased during the pandemic. 

Language or cultural barriers, lack of knowledge of the Polish legal system, and the lack of funds prevent them from seeking appropriate legal remedies.

Katarzyna’s project, called ‘Know your rights!’, aims to improve access to justice for asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants, and to ensure equality before the law for minority groups. The tool will not attempt to address all legal needs of migrants and will not replace quality legal assistance. Many situations are complex and require personal counseling. However, in a generally unfriendly administrative environment, providing support for basic submissions is already a big step in the right direction. It will be particularly useful to migrants who are isolated (in detention, reception centers, or during lockdown), cannot receive affordable immediate legal assistance, and are at risk of missing their deadlines or being denied emergency services. 

Katarzyna’s project will develop online tools for migrants residing in Poland to increase their capacity in migration procedures. The tool will provide individualized basic submissions with clear instructions.

Katarzyna’s project will develop online tools for migrants residing in Poland to increase their capacity in migration procedures. The tool will provide individualized basic submissions with clear instructions. All published materials will be prepared by, consulted with, or reviewed by a panel of legal experts. The website will have to satisfy a range of demands. Firstly, in complex cases, a set of questions will have to be answered before a template is filled in and downloaded. Secondly, the tool will automatically fill in the address of the competent administrative body. Thirdly, in the case where legal consultation is required, it will locate the nearest lawyer offering pro bono services. Finally, there will also be a range of video tutorials where migrants themselves explain how to navigate certain procedures. 

The online tool will be available in at least three languages. Katarzyna plans on tracking the progress of the project using the following milestones:

  1. Bring together a pool of legal experts (in 1 – 2 months).
  2. Draft the legal submissions templates with detailed instructions (in 2 – 6 months). 
  3. Review the submissions by the group of experts (in 4 – 8 months).
  4. Design the online tool (in 2 – 8 months). 
  5. Consultation with the online data security experts (in 6 months).
  6. Translations of the content into three languages (in 8 – 10 months).
  7. Preparation of promotion materials (in 8 – 11 months).
  8. Launch of the online tool (in 12 months).