Asylum seekers face various hurdlesthat can hardly be overcome without counselling, help and support. A lack of knowledge about rights and obligations in the asylum procedure and the often confusing jurisdictions of the authorities are an enormous challenge for asylum seekers. A lack of knowledge about the significance of the hearing at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) can have fatal consequences for those affected. The right of fugitives to asylum procedure counselling in a language they understand is reflected in various standards at national and EU level (Art. 12 and Art. 22 EU Asylum Procedures Directive). According to Art. 18 para. 2 of the Directive, non-governmental organisations shall be granted access to asylum seekers in order to advise and support them. In addition, all asylum seekers have the right to a fair procedure pursuant to Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the principle of the rule of law pursuant to Article 20 (3) of the German Basic Law.
In ANKER centres asylum seekers are often far away from access points to effective legal advice. Access to rights is especially difficult for persons in need of protection, such as severely traumatised and sick asylum seekers and persons with disabilities. With the speeding uo of the asylum procedures in the ANKER centres and the associated quality deficiencies, the danger of wrong decisions by the authorities increases. In order to recognize rights and obligations under these circumstances, to make use of them or to implement them, as well as to be able to adequately present one’s own reasons for protection, a qualified consultation is central. Further, qualified counselling is essential to be able to adequately present one’s reasons for protection. The advice on asylum procedures offered by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees cannot be regarded as independent, as the authority acts in an interest-led manner. Asylum seekers also do not perceive them as independent counsellors and often have concerns to seek their legal advice. Volunteers and members of non-governmental organisations offering independent and free counselling are usually denied access to ANKER centres. UNHCR has long advocated access for asylum seekers to procedural and social counselling: “Only independent counselling strengthens the fairness of the procedure and can effectively reach those seeking protection. Only counselling that works independent from official structures will be able to give asylum seekers confidence in the asylum procedure and the involved authorities“.