Access to Justice: Help Refugees with Legal Tech

One aim of Legal Tech is to improve access to justice and the legal system. Drawing on Michael Mansfield’s famous sentence “At the heart of any notion of a decent society is not only that we have rights and protections under the law but that we can enforce those rights and rely upon those protections if needed”, many legal startups and initiatives try find new ways to use technology to provide some form of effective assistance for people with essential civil legal needs who cannot afford legal advice or do not have the knowledge to seek for proper legal advice.

In the same vain, moved by the plight of refugees in Europe, a number of initiatives has developed creative tech solutions to help refugees to „enforce their rights“. One of them is Asylumright.org, recently founded as a non-profit organisation by Adrian Sonder and Carsten Reimann. Its mission is to help refugees and all stakeholders involved in dealing with their legal status by dramatically reducing the time of administrative proceedings. Asylumright.org has partnered with NeotaLogic to use its modern digital technology and legal process know-how in order to provide plain and real-time information on German asylum law and practice. The pilot application, the Asylum Right Guidance System, allows every potential immigrant to anonymously assess his or her individual situation and get a report which outlines the chances of being granted asylum in Germany. The system can be used by anyone and anywhere there is access to the internet. It is a gateway helping to find a path in the legal and administrative world. However, it does not give clear-cut legal advice on individual chances of being granted asylum in Germany.

Asylumright.org wants to address and provide relief to some of the shortcomings of how this framework is implemented. In spite of many good efforts, there are still obstacles due to the lack of personnel resources and the fact that public administration and the judicial sector only begin to make use of digital technology. The founders of Asylumright.org believe that „transparent access to up-dated information is of key importance“. This means access to real-time or frequent up-dates on latest changes in the law and other relevant data. Asylumright.org has numerous supporters from all political parties, academia and other organisations as well as strong IT partners.

There are other interesting ideas to help refugees through the means of tech:

First Contact — Publishes information to help refugees find safe shelters in Europe.

GeeCycle.org —  A network that makes it easy for people to donate mobile phones that will be given to refugees.

MyRefuge —  Is conceived as like an AirBnB for refugees, with no money involved.

migreat.com — Helps refugees apply for legal asylum. It can also provide them with a legal adviser or help them get a visa. It can even help refugees find specific communities or housing, or meet people and make friends.

RefugeesOnRails.org — Collects old laptops and gives them to refugees. There is also an organization in Berlin with the same name that teaches refugees how to do coding so they can work in the IT industry.

Refugees Welcome — Helps find rooms in apartments and houses in nine countries. It has so far found places for approx. 500 refugees.

ShareTheMeal.org — Allows people to donate money to provide refugees with food.

Techfugees — A number of technology industry people have formed a voluntary team to create the series of non-profit “Techfugees” conferences, hackathons, and work with a global network of collaborators.

Workeer — Helps refugees to find work in Germany.