Dutch Groups Launch 'Know Your Rights' Project for Asylum Seekers

Pro Bono Connect, New Dutch Connections, the NJCM, the Leiden Law Clinic and DLA Piper launched the Know Your Rights project; a project aimed at empowering young asylum seekers by introducing them into various legal topics.

On World Refugee Day, June 20, Pro Bono Connect, New Dutch Connections, the NJCM, the Leiden Law Clinic, and DLA Piper launched the Know Your Rights project, aimed at empowering young asylum seekers by introducing them to various legal topics.

Adriana van Dooijweert, president of the Human Rights Institute (College voor de Rechten van de Mens), opened the event, which was moderated by Lara Talsma (Project Coordinator Pro Bono Connect). Bright Richards (New Dutch Connections), accompanied by musician Oleg Fateev, brightened up the Zuidas with a performance.

And (ex-)asylum seekers underlined the importance of this project by sharing their personal experiences as a refugee coming to the Netherlands; as a newcomer, how would you even know if you have the right to medical care in a hospital or to a job?

Former asylum seekers shared their experiences as refugees coming to the Netherlands. (Image: NJCM/Facebook)

Know Your Rights

Know Your Rights is a 12-week project, starting in September, during which some 20 young asylum seekers (up to the age of 30) attend weekly 2-hour sessions on various human rights issues. The goal is to empower the young asylum seekers by increasing knowledge of legal systems, whether it be Dutch, European or International, the rights of asylum seekers, and how to stand up for their rights.

The underlying aim is to give them the feeling that they have autonomy over who they are in this world, which is often lost while they stay in asylum seekers centers.

During the project, every asylum student will be assigned a mentor (a legal professional) and a buddy (law students) for the course of the project. The idea is that the refugee students will also build a (professional) network throughout the project.

The Know Your Rights program gives asylum seekers the feeling that they have autonomy over who they are in this world.  (Image: NJCM/Facebook)

The content of the program was developed by the Leiden Law Clinic, under the supervision of Prof. mr. A.G. Castermans, in collaboration with legal experts in the various fields. New Dutch Connection selects the asylum seekers (mainly based on motivation and language skills, proficient Dutch or English), and Pro Bono Connect and the NJCM make the connections between all parties, i.e. finding the legal experts, teachers, mentors, locations etc. Since the beginning of this project, DLA Piper has been a strong supporter of this project in various ways

Pro Bono Connect

Pro Bono Connect is the first public interest clearinghouse in the Netherlands and acts as an intermediary between non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and law firms. Pro Bono Connect was established in November 2015 by the Dutch section of the International Commission of Jurists (NJCM).

For more information about the Know Your Rights project, please contact Lara Talsma at info@probonoconnect.nl.