Strengthening Asylum is implemented by the non-governmental organisation Future Worlds Center since May 2006, and is funded by the UNHCR Representation in Cyprus. The project gives us the responsibility to work towards strengthening the asylum system in the Republic of Cyprus, and assisting asylum seekers during the asylum procedure, as well as refugees, residing in Cyprus under international protection. The project offers free legal and social advice to asylum seekers and persons under international protection. Its main objective is to ensure that beneficiaries have access to a fair and efficient asylum procedure, while they can enjoy the rights they are entitled to according to national, European, and International law. The team implementing the project consists of two Legal Advisors and one Social Advisor who offer individual consultation to the beneficiaries, and a Public Information Officer who seeks to raise awareness within the Cypriot community on refugee and asylum matters. Overall, the project aims to advocate for the enhancement of rights of asylum seekers and refugees, as well as to support, and encourage their integration into the Cypriot society.
Our team of Legal Advisors provides free, confidential, and independent legal advice to asylum seekers and refugees. The asylum application procedure can often be daunting for people who have fled insecurity and are seeking protection. A major role for our legal team is to make people feel at ease with the procedure, and to ensure that their application has been treated in a just manner. Currently, ‘Strengthening Asylum’ is the only project in Cyprus that provides free legal services to asylum seekers and refugees. Our legal team provides services to persons seeking access to the asylum procedure up to the first instance appeal, before the Refugee Reviewing Authority. The project aims to assist as many beneficiaries as possible, and gives priority to vulnerable people including women, victims of torture, sexual, and gender-based violence. In Cyprus, legal aid is offered by the government only at the judicial review level, before the Supreme Court. No free legal advice or assistance is provided to asylum seekers at the first stages of their asylum application or the first instance appeal before the Refugee Reviewing Authority. Pro-bono legal work is not allowed under the Advocates Law and the majority of asylum seekers and refugees are not in the position to pay for the services of a private lawyer. It must be noted that NGO lawyers are not permitted under the Advocates Law to appear before the Courts of Justice, which includes the Supreme Court. For more details on the legal procedure please refer to our manual on our FAQs section. The services of our legal advisors team are necessary to ensure people’s proper access to the asylum procedures. In particular, we assist detained asylum seekers to submit their application for asylum, and we prepare well-reasoned appeals against negative decisions to asylum applications. We also help asylum seekers prepare and present legal aid submissions, in cases where systemic gaps result in flawed asylum decisions. The information that people give us, and the advice that we give, is highly confidential. If you call, please be prepared to answer detailed questions and to provide us with documents related to your status.