C&S and the Finnish Refugee Advice Centre Partner to Support Refugees in Finland

Castrén & Snellman and the Finnish Refugee Advice Centre began a pro bono partnership at the start of 2021. The Finnish Refugee Advice Centre is a non-governmental organisation and law firm specialised in immigration law.

It provides legal aid and advice to asylum seekers, refugees and other foreigners in Finland. The organisation specialises in helping people in vulnerable positions, such as victims of human trafficking and torture. The organisation also engages in lobbying. The Finnish Refugee Advice Centre was founded over 30 years ago and is unique in Finland.

‘No other organisation in Finland engages in human rights work in this field as extensively or expertly. Our work often revolves around fundamental human and basic rights, for example, the right of refugees to family life. Our lawyers provide legal aid to people who have suffered serious violations of their human rights or who have not previously received sufficient legal protection in Finland’, says Hanna Laari, Executive Lawyer at the Finnish Refugee Advice Centre.

The goal of the Refugee Advice Centre is for everyone to enjoy legal protection in Finland, regardless of their background. In addition to Hanna, the Centre employs ten other refugee and immigration law experts.

Hanna Laari, Executive Lawyer at the Finnish Refugee Advice Centre. Picture: Finnish Refugee Advice Centre.

Finances Crippled by Legislative Amendments 

Despite the centre’s important mission, its financial situation has been, and continues to be, dire. The current situation was caused by legislative amendments in 2016.

‘The amendments resulted in the legal aid paid for assisting asylum seekers dropping significantly and the handling of early-stage cases being restricted. Our work became financially unsustainable, and the financial foundation of our entire organisation crumbled’, says Hanna.

Though some of these amendments were finally reversed in August 2021, the losses incurred over the past five years cannot be quickly remedied.

Partnership Enables Appeals to UN Committees

Thanks to its partnership with C&S, the Finnish Refugee Advice Centre has been able to take more cases to supranational courts than it otherwise would have.

‘We don’t have the resources to hire outside help, for example, to handle labour-intensive translations. Appeals to UN committees and the related documentation must be translated into English. The translations provided by the C&S translation team have been an invaluable aid this past year as we have drafted appeals to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in family reunification cases’, says Hanna.

Partners are vital to the Finnish Refugee Advice Centre:

‘We couldn’t do the work we do without our supporters. Castrén & Snellman participating in concrete work on behalf of human rights in Finland. Together, we can continue working to promote the realisation of basic and human rights in 2022’, says Hanna.

Help support the Finnish Refugee Advice Centre by donating.