Legal Support


From November 2015 to June 2016, the EDEM, together with the UNHCR, conducted research on the legal support of asylum seekers in Belgium. The field of application included, on the one hand, asylum seekers in traditional reception centers, in other words in open reception centers, and on the other hand, asylum seekers in administrative detention, placed in one of the five Belgian closed centers. The result of the research was therefore formalized in two separate reports, one on "territory", the other covering "detention".

Based on an analysis of the normative framework and the practices of the actors on the ground, each of the two reports identified the favorable practices and the obstacles to the access to a general and individualized legal information, a social and legal framework and legal assistance and representation granted to asylum seekers.

To that effect, the research team, made up of a lawyer and a sociologist, conducted online questionnaires for lawyers and social workers in reception structures for the "territory" report and for the "detention" report, other questionnaires intended for lawyers, returning center officials and NGO members accredited to visit the centers, in order to collect quantitative and qualitative data. These were cross-referenced to draw up an inventory of the issue and make practical recommendations to improve access and, to a lesser extent, quality of legal asylum. Semi-structured interviews were also conducted with twenty asylum seekers from different types of open reception centers, no interviews were held with asylum seekers in administrative detention.

The research was done in close collaboration with the Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (Fedasil) and the local host partners, namely the French Community Red Cross and Rode Kruis-Vlaanderen as well as the Local Initials of Reception (ILA / LOI). It was also conducted in partnership with the French-speaking and German-speaking Bar Association (OBFG) and the Orde van Vlaamse Balies (OVB).