Legal aid for returnees deprived of liberty

This report outlines to what extent legal aid is available to those held in pre-removal detention in the 27 EU Member States, and in North Macedonia and Serbia, during procedures related to their return. These involve decisions on return, on detention pending removal, the removal itself and on bans on entry. The report also examines when people are entitled to free legal aid and how this aid is funded, as well as who provides representation and various factors that limit the scope of legal aid.

The findings are based on both desk research on the applicable legal framework and on a range of interviews with immigration authorities, entities managing detention facilities, and legal aid providers addressing how legal aid works in practice. Since the ongoing pandemic appeared to affect these procedures, the agency conducted a second round of interviews to learn specifically about Covid-19’s impact.