1. Legal Aid
Legal aid is a service whereby free legal advice, assistance or representation is provided by a lawyer to those, who cannot afford to hire a lawyer, due to their financial condition. For this service to be granted to someone, an application must be made to the Court.
2. The Habeas Corpus Application for Asylum Seekers in the Cypriot Judicial Review System
Asylum seekers have the right to apply for legal aid for habeas corpus proceedings. If their legal aid application is accepted, the lawyer appointed for the habeas corpus proceedings will challenge the duration of the asylum seeker’s detention, and not whether a decision to detain them was correct. Under the Legal Aid Law, only asylum seekers can receive legal aid for a habeas corpus application.
Asylum seekers may only be detained:
- for identification purposes
- to clarify evidence upon which the application is based, and obtaining such evidence would otherwise be impossible, especially when there is a danger of escape of the applicant
- to determine whether, in the context of the procedure, the applicant has a right to enter the country
- when a person is detained in order to be deported, and the Minister of Interior has justified on the basis of objective criteria that the person already had the opportunity to apply for asylum, or whether is applying only to delay or prevent his/her deportation.
- When it is necessary for the protection of national security or public order
- When there is a significant reason for escaping and the detention is necessary in order to secure transfer procedures under Dublin Regulation.
- None of the above apply to you, and,
- and if you are an asylum seeker who has not received the decision from the Asylum Service or the Reviewing Authority of Refugees, or submitted a case to the Administrative Court,
- and you believe you are detained for no reason for too long,
we advise you to apply for legal aid for habeas corpus proceedings.
The Legal Aid Law does not provide legal aid for the purpose of challenging the legitimacy of a detention order for undocumented (irregular migrants); thus, if you are an asylum seeker, we refer you to the Guide for Asylum Seekers; if you are an undocumented (irregular) migrant, that does not mean that you don’t have the right to challenge a detention order before the Administrative Court; it just means that you can challenge it, either by finding the money to hire a lawyer on your own or by representing yourself before the Administrative Court.
In order for the legal aid to be granted, the two following requirements must be fulfilled:
- legal aid concerns only the first – instance proceedings of the application submitted before the Supreme Court;
- the applicant has insufficient resources to pay for a lawyer (this further means that the applicant must not be able to afford to pay a lawyer on her/his own).
Since the requirements that need to be met, Court with this application will only decide if the applicant will get legal aid, in order to submit a Habeas Corpus application before the Supreme Court for the purpose of challenging the legitimacy of the duration of detention, the Applicant must only persuade the Court that s/he cannot afford to pay a lawyer and that the legal aid concerns the first – instance proceedings. The Applicant at this stage must not persuade the Court why s/he believes that the duration of her/his detention is unlawful.
4. Application Forms & Attached Documents:
- In order to apply for legal aid, you need to fill two applications in your mother tongue: Form 1 and Form 2. Form 1 concerns the legal aid application itself; Form 2 is actually a written statement, with which you provide the court the necessary data regarding your financial situation.
The original application forms (Form 1 and Form 2) can be obtained from the Registry of the Supreme Court. They are also available for download in Greek and in English. Before filling in the forms, please check out the relevant Guide.
5. Application Procedures:
- The applications for legal aid (Form 1 and Form 2 must be submitted in Greek, as this is the only language, which the Court understands.
Thus, if you do not know Greek and you are in detention, you will inform the officer in charge of the detention centre that you wish to apply for legal aid and the need for an interpreter to be present in the Registry of the Administrative Court, in purpose of filling your application, as you do not know Greek. In case you are refused, we strongly advise you to contact either KISA or the Civil Registration & Migration Department.
- The Registrar will set a date, in which you must go to the Registry of the Supreme Court (it is located in the Supreme Court, in the basement, on your left hand side) with all the documents that you must submit to it; an interpreter should be there, as requested, to help you fill the necessary Forms by translating the Forms that you filled in your mother tongue into Greek.
- After submitting your application in the Registry of the Supreme Court, the Registrar will give you a number for your case and the date and time for the first hearing. At this point, you must also indicate (to the Registrar) the need for interpreter to be present during the Court hearings. The Registrar will arrange interpretation in the language of your choice to facilitate the communication during the hearing.
- The notice of your application shall be served on the Attorney – General of the Republic of Cyprus, as a representative of him will take part in the Court’s hearing.
- At the Court’s hearings, you (the Applicant) must be present and deal personally with your case, with the help of the interpreter appointed by the Court.
First hearing: the Judge will hear you and the representative of the Attorney – General of the Republic, in order to determine whether your legal aid application is covered by the law. However:
- It is possible at this point that the lawyer representing the Attorney General’s Office will ask for further time to submit an objection . ‘Objection’ is a written statement with which the Attorney General’s Office explains why they disagree with the possibility of you receiving legal aid.
- Furthermore, you may ask for a written translation of the objection, so that you have time to study it before the next hearing. This is so that you have the opportunity to study the reasons of objection, and respond to them at the next hearing.
If the application is not covered by the Law, the Judge will dismiss the application. Please note that even if your legal aid application is dismissed, you still have the right to apply for Habeas Corpus before the Supreme Court, either by finding the money to hire a lawyer on your own or by representing yourself before the Court.
If the application is covered by the Law, the Judge will order that a socio-economic report drawn up by the Welfare Office has to be deposited in the Registry, within a time limit and s/he will set a date and time for the examination of the application.
Second / Next hearing – Examination of the application: the Judge will hear you and the representative of the Attorney – General of the Republic, in order to determine whether your legal aid application will be approved or dismissed. It is important at this process, to say every information you believe is relevant to your situation, such as the duration of your detention, if the Government is taking any steps to deport you, and any other information that shows why the criteria of detaining an asylum seeker do not apply to your case (see section 2). if possible, contact an NGO as to how they can help you prepare for the hearing. When the hearing is done, the judge, will set a date and time to give her/his ruling in writing.
Then, s/he will set a date and time to give her/his ruling in writing.
- After the ruling of the Court, successful applicants will be given by the Registrar of the Supreme Court a letter stating that their application for legal aid has been accepted. At this point, the applicants must immediately find a lawyer, who will represent them, provided that the lawyer agrees to work with legal aid (see attached list of legal aid lawyers). A list of lawyers, who work with legal aid, is available at the Registry of the Court.
- The lawyer will get paid by the Government and is not allowed to charge the applicant extra fees for the services provided for this proceedings (meaning the proceedings for which legal aid is granted).
- After the approval of the legal aid application, you must find a lawyer to prepare and submit the Habeas Corpus application before the Supreme Court
- With the Habeas Corpus application you challenge the legitimacy of the duration of your detention. There isn’t any deadline for the submission of the application. But after the Court approves your legal aid application, we strongly advise you to find a lawyer, who works with legal aid, so that s/he submits your Habeas Corpus application as soon as possible.