The emergence of new tech has garnered worldwide attention with its promises to make different aspects of life easier. While perceptions on new tech are varied, signatories of the Global Refugee Forum Legal Community Pledge (GRF) are utilizing technology in innovative ways to enhance their legal assistance. Learn more about the different tech solutions being used by the GRF Pledge signatories  to advance access to legal information and assistance. 

Justice Centre Hong Kong (JCHK), in partnership with Freshfields, has developed the HK Asylum Guide App available online and for offline download on the  Apple Store and Google Play, to expand access to legal information for refugees and asylum seekers in Hong Kong. Launched in 2020, this app provides a step-by-step guide for refugees making a non-refoulement claim under the Hong Kong Unified Screening Mechanism or appealing a negative decision. Named the winning project in the ‘Social Justice’ category of the Financial Times Innovative Lawyers Asia-Pacific Awards 2021, the app is presently available in English and French and aims to provide access in the 11 languages most commonly used by JCHK clients. 

Led by DLA Piper in collaboration with UK immigration lawyers, The Ukraine Advice Project website was set up to provide access to legal information and advice to Ukrainians seeking information and advice on asylum, family reunification and other visas to remain in or come to the UK. Drawing on their experience with providing legal information to Afghans in 2021, DLA Piper set up an inbox and a secure platform to receive and manage requests for assistance to Ukrainians who are then addressed by over 400 volunteer lawyers.

The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) launched a new online legal aid platform that will link organizations  providing legal aid and people affected by the war in Ukraine wherever they may be. The platform also includes the most popular legal Q&As and informational videos. Available in Ukrainian and English, the platform includes profiles of lawyers who are ready to provide online and offline consultations. In addition to DRC’s face-to-face consultations and legal support hotlines, the online platform allows those in need of legal aid to find their lawyer from a list approved on the basis of their expertise and experience, choose a convenient time for a meeting, wait for their appointment confirmation, and connect with the lawyer. Lawyers from different organizations are able to register their profiles and receive consultation requests through the platform. 

Data Collection and Analysis

The Refugee Consortium of Kenya (RCK) collaborated with UNHCR to develop a technologically integrated data collection tool for effective monitoring, data collection and data analysis. The smart data collection app installed on smartphones issued to the border monitors help the border monitors share real time data on the number of people entering Kenya with data disaggregation based on sex, age, and nationality, among others, and the situation/condition that occasioned their migration, among others. The RCK notes that this app has enhanced border monitoring and reporting therefore providing better protection strategies for displaced persons in cross border movement and has also allowed them to intervene in a timelier, targeted and efficient manner.

On top of their flagship case-based research reports and emergency repositories, Asylos undertakes projects that improve access to information for asylum claims, explore how technology can help improve decision-making on asylum claims and manages knowledge within their organisation. In 2022, a total of 10,067 documents were downloaded, ranging from case-specific  Country of Origin (COI) Research Reports, Emergency Repositories on Ukraine, Afghanistan and Afghans in Pakistan, Turkey and Iran, and a detailed thematic COI report plus good practice guidelines & a research training handbook about conducting COI research for clients with disabilities. These reports provide specific information to individuals and their supporters that are beneficial to their asylum recognition.

In providing legal assistance today, the above partners show that the rapid change of times call for innovative means of responding and facilitating support to those impacted by new and protracted crises across the world.

Learn more about PILnet’s work with those who have been forcibly displaced.