The war provoked by the Russian Federation's aggression against Ukraine in February 2022 and its tragic consequences in Europe, resulting in a huge increase in the number of people fleeing Ukraine in neighbouring countries and beyond, call for immediate action.
To assist lawyers from most affected countries dealing with the influx of war refugees, mostly women, girls and boys, the Council of Europe took immediate steps, thanks to the flexibility of its Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals (HELP) Programme, and the coincidental start of the EU-funded “HELP in the EU III” project. As European Bar associations are members of the HELP Network and there is a sound basis of HELP tutors (many also experts on asylum/migration), HELP could rapidly respond via tailored legal support – that can evolve as we go through all stages of conflict, peace-building and post-conflict.
Thus, as of 1 March 2022, virtual Asylum/Migration HELP e-Desks were set up, managed by HELP tutors and legal experts to support lawyers assisting refugees from Ukraine in four EU neighbouring countries (Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland) with EU financial support; the same with Moldova with Council of Europe own funding.
These HELP e-Desks are being gradually fed with resources and information as it becomes available in each country, particularly after the reactivation of the EU Directive on Temporary Protection. The initative is coordinated with the Migration Committee of the Council of Bars and Law Societies in Europe (CCBE). National HELP e-Desks have also been set up for Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece and Spain and several others are in preparation. The objective is to set up National HELP eDesks in other (EU) MS and -beyond the Ukrainian crisis, may evolve and need further support as needs exceed available means.
In parallel, a similar Asylum/Migration National HELP e-Desk is being developed for Ukraine for those still in the country who need legal information on asylum/migration/displacement issues. By end 2022, there were over 4600 Ukrainians registered in the HELP e-learning platform for legal professionals. It is noteworthy that, in the last years, at least 335 Ukrainians followed the Ukrainian contextualised version of the HELP course on Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) with tutors from Justice Training institutions (or IDP-related ministries), largely under and mainly under the CoE cooperation project/interventions to strengthen the Human Rights Protection of IDPs in Ukraine.
About the initiative
The Asylum/Migration HELP e-Desks facilitate access of legal professionals to information and training about effective handling of cases at national level related to refugees and displaced persons, with an immediate focus on refugees from Ukraine.
The National HELP e-Desks contain:
- useful links and practical tips assisting legal professionals dealing with the refugees and displaced persons;
- legal resources, national legal framework and context; the e-Desks are being updated with developments as they emerge at national and European level, especially related to procedures and practices on the EU Temporary Protection Directive (for EU MS) and asylum and resettlement procedures;
- online self-paced training based on HELP courses related to the context (Asylum and Human Rights; Refugee and Migrant Children; Internal Displacement; Combating Trafficking in Human Beings - see information about the courses below), based on which legal professionals can undergo fast and high-quality training and can benefit from electronically generated Statements of Accomplishment upon successful completion;
- some eDesks have a forum for exchange, moderated by national experts.
Relevant HELP courses
Asylum and human rights
The HELP/UNHCR online course has been updated in 2021 under the EU-CoE ‘HELP EU II’ project and has been followed by over 6000 users to date.
- Non-refoulement, the right to life and prohibition of ill-treatment
- Detention and Reception
- The right to family life and asylum
- Effective remedy
The updated version of the course is available in the following languages: English, French, Bulgarian, Greek, Italian, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Spanish, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Ukrainian, Croatian, Czech, German, Latvian, Slovenian. The previous edition is also available in Albanian, Bosnian, Flemish, Georgian, Russian, Serbian, Turkish.
Refugee and migrant children
The HELP course was developed as part of the activities implementing the Council of Europe Action Plan on protecting Refugee and Migrant Children in Europe (2017-2019).
- Introduction to the legal framework
- Child-friendly procedures
- Alternatives to detention
- Family reunification
- Social rights and integration
- Age assessment
The course is available in the following languages: English, French, Albanian, Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Greek, Italian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Polish, Serbian, Spanish, Turkish and will soon be made available in Ukrainian (April 2022).
Developed under the Council of Europe Project "Strengthening the Human Rights Protection of Internally Displaced Persons in Ukraine".
- Overview and Key Concepts
- International and European Legal Framework
- Protection of Property and Home under ECHR
- Other Frequently Invoked ECHR rights
- Protection of Social Rights
The course is available in English, French, Ukrainian.
Combating trafficking in human beings
- Introduction and legal framework
- Definitions and legal concepts
- Identification of victims of human trafficking
- Assistance for victims of human trafficking
- The non-punishment principle
- Investigation, prosecution and victims’ rights
- Compensation for victims of human trafficking
- Return and repatriation
- Trafficking for the Purpose of Labour Exploitation
The course is available in English, Arabic, Bosnian, Czech, Macedonian, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Slovak, Serbian, Turkish and will be soon made available in Ukrainian (May 2022).
- COEHELP e-learning platform
- Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals Programme (HELP Programme)
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