A. Description and objectives
The ELENA platform is designed as a communication tool that allows effective coordination and communication between asylum lawyers, predominantly members of the ELENA network, on a number of refugee related legal issues. It is managed by ECRE. The objective of the ELENA Platform is multi-fold:
- To exchange information that could be relevant when representing an asylum applicant and beneficiaries of international protection on the national and European level;
- To exchange litigation arguments and legal strategies in order to effectively challenge negative policies, law and practice before domestic and European courts and/or where relevant the ECSR and the UN mechanisms;
- To provide informal support in relation to individual cases e.g. relevant legal submissions, skeleton arguments;
- To exchange information on points of EU law, domestic and international law;
- To explore strategies for strategic litigation at the European level;
- To update on relevant training and job opportunities where available;
- To improve networking opportunities between asylum lawyers.
Overall the ELENA platform (elenaforum.com) is designed to exchange information at the European level with reference to international and EU law where applicable and not for lawyers to discuss their own national issues amongst themselves.
The platform shall not replace any national forums or emailing groups which are in place although it is inevitable that in some cases information will be exchanged between these two different fora. The national ELENA coordinators should ensure relevant cross-referencing and sharing information in national languages within their own national networks where possible and unless confidential/limited to the forum users.
The platform should be subject to registration and approval by the forum’s facilitator: ECRE’s Legal Support and Litigation staff member in charge of coordinating the ELENA network on behalf of ECRE. The initial membership (in 2018) will be reserved to a maximum of 130 asylum lawyers including all the ELENA coordinators and will be subsequently expanded in the coming years. The lawyers will be invited to join the platform based on the following cumulative criteria:
- Recommendation by the ELENA coordinators;
- Membership or active engagement with the ELENA network including through one of the existing mailing lists;
- Geographic balance (1 – 3 lawyers per ELENA country depending on its size and asylum system complexity);
- Experience in representing important and/or strategic asylum cases before the domestic and/or the European courts; and
- Ability to effectively communicate in English.
3 different types of forums are designed in order to make the platform easy to navigate and search:
i. The ELENA Coordinators Forum
Facilitating information exchange between the ELENA coordinators on topics related to network development, coordination, membership and events. Thematic discussions will not be facilitated through this forum.
ii. The Discussion Forums
Designed for thematic asylum related discussions. General legal queries, inter alia, on the situation in a specific country or comparative practices regarding a specific asylum issue (not requiring complex litigation advice) should be posted here.
The Discussion Forums are organised based on the following topics:
- Armed Conflict & Generalized violence
- Asylum Procedures
- Content of Protection
- Country-specific queries
- Family Reunification
- Reception Conditions
- Safe Country Concepts
- Vulnerable groups
- Reception Conditions
- Burden of proof
- Evidentiary requirements
iii. The Litigation Forum(s)
To be used exclusively for litigation related questions. Queries requesting advice related to legal argumentation to be used in your litigation, interventions, etc. should be posted here.