Aydin Alinejad of the Munich Refugee Council is talking to a woman from Uganda in the "Infobus for Refugees" | Photo: Sven Hoppe/dpa
Aydin Alinejad of the Munich Refugee Council is talking to a woman from Uganda in the "Infobus for Refugees" | Photo: Sven Hoppe/dpa

The 'Infobus' project offers free legal advice to refugees and asylum seekers in Munich. Because their volunteers were banned from offering their service inside reception centers, they went to court. Now, that court has ruled the 'Infobus' may not assist refugees inside the facilities without having been called for help.

The 'Infobus' team from the Munich Refugee Council and Amnesty International may only council asylum seekers inside their accommodation if they were called upon for help.

That’s the ruling Munich’s administrative court made Friday, which preliminarily settles a months-long spat between the two organizations and the government of Upper Bavaria over a bus that provides information for asylum seekers.

The “Infobus for Refugees” has been informing refugees at their facilities as a mobile drop-in center about the asylum process since 2001. It also provided help with consultations.

At the beginning of 2018, however, the government of Upper Bavaria imposed a ban on the longstanding practice.

Citing security and fire safety, the government forbade employees of the refugee council and Amnesty to offer their consultation on the premises of the accommodation. The government also pointed out the service may cause unnecessary noise for the residents.

Council suspects political motives

Citing a guideline of the European Union that says asylum seekers have the right to avail themselves of help from NGOs, the Refugee Council took matters to Munich’s administrative court.

The Council suspected political motives behind the ban.

Munich’s administrative court ruled that for the time being, the two organizations must not drive their Infobus to the refugees’ facilities to offer their counseling unless an asylum seeker has called them for help first.

The court also ruled the government of Upper Bavaria must now decide which, if any, objective reasons contradict the wish of the organizations to directly, and without prior call for help, council refugees about the asylum process.

Due to the fundamental importance of the case, the court has allowed both sides to appeal the decision.

With material from dpa

 

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