Global law firm, DLA Piper, in partnership with the Irish Refugee Council will this week begin the roll-out of the firm’s ‘Know Your Rights’ programme to refugees and asylum seekers living in Ireland. The legal education training programme empowers asylum seekers and refugees to better advocate for themselves and know their rights in host countries.

It is a programme for refugees, led by refugees, with DLA Piper’s pro bono legal officer, Awmaima Amrayaf, driving and coordinating the programme. Working with the Irish Refugee Council, Awmaima and the DLA Piper Dublin team, led by Eileen Johnston and Louise McErlean, have worked to tailor the course to meet the issues faced by asylum seekers and refugees in Ireland.

The five-week legal education programme, which will consist of weekly virtual webinars administered and led by lawyers from DLA Piper, will seek to educate up to 50 refugees and asylum seekers on their legal rights in Ireland, covering the legal system, employment, housing and consumer rights. The programme, which is free of charge for participants, aims to support and empower people who are seeking protection and to build new lives in Ireland.

The first course will begin on 21 January 2021 with an introductory webinar, introducing participants to the Irish legal system followed by weekly webinars and concluding with a workshop on interview skills and public speaking on 18 February. All attendees will be provided with the relevant course materials, with the view to these materials and the information they learned being used to help build their community in Ireland.

Eileen Johnston, Legal Director and Head of the CSR Committee at DLA Piper's Dublin office, said: “Knowledge is power and that is especially true for asylum seekers and refugees in Ireland. Through our ‘Know Your Rights’ programme, we want to empower asylum seekers and refugees by increasing their core knowledge on important legal issues and teaching them about their rights. This programme is a signature part of DLA Piper's global pro bono practice and so far, more than 600 refugees and asylum seekers have participated in the ‘Know Your Rights’ programme around the world. We have worked hard with the Irish Refugee Council to tailor the programme to address particular issues relevant to Ireland, and we look forward to delivering the programme to participants over the next number of weeks.”

Nick Henderson, CEO, Irish Refugee Council said: “More than ever, refugees and people seeking protection need practical information about their rights delivered by experts. The pandemic has exposed gaps in knowledge and in some cases abuse and exploitation particularly around housing and employment issues. The Know Your Rights programme will be crucial in empowering people as they build their new lives in Ireland. We believe it is the first of its kind in Ireland and we are very excited to be involved.”

So far, more than 600 refugees, asylum seekers and migrants have participated in the ‘Know Your Rights’ programme. DLA Piper has rolled out the programme in 16 locations across the firm’s network including Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Thailand, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand in partnership with 15 NGO partners. To date, 221 lawyers from DLA Piper’s global network have participated in delivering the programme in their respective markets.

You can find out more about DLA Piper’s Know Your Rights programme here.

For futher information please contact : Deirdre Connolly, Edelman (085 2449804)