The IUC Legal Clinical Program
The IUC Clinical Legal Education Program on Migrants’ Rights attempts to bridge the gap between classroom education and the reality of professional practice, sensitizing students as future professionals to the problems of social justice and social responsibility, with two primary objectives: first, to encourage students throughout their clinical experience to envisage how legal institutions and practices can be reformed and reorganized to best serve society, and secondly to provide the much-needed pro bono legal support to under-represented individuals and organizations within Turin's area.
A fundamental part of this program is the legal advice/support given by students and volunteers, supervised by faculty and local lawyers, to migrants/refugees in the local area of Turin. In addition, the law clinical program includes practical activities related to strategic litigation (including case involvements presented to European Courts and Regional and International Human Rights Bodies), experiential research, and advocacy in the area of International, European, and Italian human rights, asylum and migration law.
Over 320 students from more than 55 countries (such as: Afghanistan, Albania, Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Guinea, Greece, Haiti, Hungary, India, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Lebanon, Lithuania, Mali, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Puerto Rico, Peru, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, UK, Ukraine, USA) have participated in legal clinical activities.
The Migrants’ Rights Clinic (formerly also known as the “Human Rights and Migration Law Clinic”) is coordinated by Ulrich Stege together with Maurizio Veglio and supported by Paula Fraschia.
The IUC Clinical Legal Education Approach/Philosophy/Objectives:
The Migrants’ Rights Clinic represents the frame for a variety of actions and activism led mainly by students and volunteers as main actors under the supervision of academics, professionals, and social actors. The clinics follow the general IUC philosophy, which specifically looks to engage students and young scholars from all over the world in analyzing the relationship between theory and practice, favoring actual experience and empirical findings over the black letter law. In a spirit of social activism, the Migrants’ Rights Clinic is motivated by the desire to evolve from traditional forms of legal education, and to create an academic tool for systematic social change. The clinical program explores law in action (in particular in the field of migration and asylum), investigating the myriad of legal and non-legal factors that influence the social, legal, political, and economic arrangements in society while preparing at the same time students for the rigorous demands of public or private practice.
The IUC Clinical Legal Education Program pursues the following objectives:
To provide (1) a window into the true operational migration and asylum law; (2) an opportunity to understand and test the influence that the EU law and International human rights law have on the Italian migration and asylum law practice; (3) a hands-on and interdisciplinary learning experience and exposure to real-world legal problems; (4) an opportunity to interact with local organizations and professionals.
To offer (1) a contribution from qualified, motivated, and supervised students and volunteers to improving access to justice and inclusion for migrants; (2) support to research activities and advocacy in the field of migration in its social, cultural, and economic dimensions.
Besides its clear educational focus, the IUC Clinical Legal Education Program has, in addition, a strong social justice mission, which combines some broad components, such as (1) to provide support to people/communities falling out of the institutional system of support, (2) to build among students a sensitivity to social problems, promoting the role of (legal) professionals as “social actors”, (3) to build systemic change and (4) to understand the law as a social policy tool.
Migrants’ Rights Clinic Structure and Activities:
The current Migrants’ Rights Clinic offers principally two ways of getting involved:
Students may attend the legal clinic as part of their curriculum of studies.
In addition, the IUC offers alumni and volunteers to get engaged in extracurricular legal clinic activities.
The Migrants’ Rights Clinic combines
🡪 a classroom component (including the content of law with capacity building on professional skills, such as “Interview skills” and “Legal Research and Writing”):
- International & European Migration Law (Ulrich Stege, 24 hours, 4 ECTS)
- Migration Law in Practice (Maurizio Veglio, 18 hours, 3 ECTS)
- Migration Law through the Arts (Paula Fraschia)
🡪 with the involvement in practical projects activities, such as :
Refugee Law Clinic/Migrants’ Helpdesk: where students work on real asylum and migration law cases. In particular, clinical students – supervised by specialized lawyers - provide the following activities: (1) meeting the asylum seekers/migrants, (2) scrutinizing the applicants' stories, (3) searching for all relevant information, such as case law and Country of Origin Information, (4) preparing legal memos containing the story and an analysis of all relevant legal issues and (5) providing the asylum seekers/migrant with theoretical and practical information on their case (e.g. guidance for their asylum interview).
Against Human Trafficking Law Clinic: This project was created in 2016 by an initiative of students and in cooperation with the University of Turin’s law clinic on “Carcere e diritti I”. Clinical students provide legal support to victims of trafficking in human beings, by interviewing the beneficiaries, writing the legal facts, and preparing further legal actions. This legal clinic activity has also launched a cooperation with the Migration & Trafficked Persons Law Clinic in Abuja (Nigeria).
Statelessness Legal Clinic: The "Statelessness Legal Clinic" project is a joint legal training program between the IUC Migrants’ Rights Clinic, the International Protection of Human Rights Legal Clinic of the Department of Law of Roma Tre, and the Clinical Legal Clinic II course of the Department of Law of the Federico II University (Naples), implemented with the support and backing of UNHCR. The objectives of the activity are 1) to provide students/volunteers with a practical insight into the reality of statelessness and 2) to provide free legal guidance to stateless persons or persons at risk of statelessness in order to guarantee them protection and access to rights and services. Support to such persons is provided by the students/volunteers who are part of the clinical project, under the close supervision and responsibility of a lawyer experienced in statelessness.
Strategic Litigation: Law students are involved in strategic litigation activities preparing expert opinions, third-party interventions, or legal drafts linked to litigations before the Court of Justice of the EU, the European Court of Human Rights, or the UN complain bodies. To date, the legal clinic interventions have been mainly linked on issues related to Search and Rescue operations and the duties of States in the Mediterranean Sea, immigration detention (CPR/Hotspots), or Push-backs on EU external borders.
Legal Support to Asylum Seekers in Prison: Thanks to a cooperation agreement signed between the local prison in Turin, the local ombudsmen for detainees, and the IUC, students and volunteers are providing legal support to asylum seekers inside the prison. Due only to the law clinic support, it is now possible for asylum seekers to overcome the bureaucratic boundaries and formalize their asylum request while still detained in Turin’s prison. This is fundamental, as these foreign prisoners may otherwise risk deportation and inhuman treatment in their country of origin.
The IUC Immigration Detention Research Project: Since its founding, the IUC clinical program has focused on scrutinizing the treatment of immigration detainees in Turin’s CPR (Centri di Permanenza per il Rimpatrio). Clinical students are involved in interviewing detainees and major stakeholders, analyzing case law (such as from detention and expulsion decisions provided by the Giudice of the Pace), publishing awareness-raising reports and legal assessments, and launching – together with its partners – legal actions.
🡪 Furthermore, students are engaged in general supervision/reflection sessions. These are crucial moments, where students share their experiences and reflect on how legal institutions and practices operate and how they could be reformed to better meet the needs of asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants.
The Migrants’ Rights Clinic is implemented (in part) in cooperation with the Departments of Law of the Universities of Turin and Eastern Piedmont in Alessandria. It is open to the international student body from the IUC Programs. In addition, it involves undergraduate law students from the Universities of Turin and Eastern Piedmont. It thus engages a group of selected Italian and international students who are highly qualified and motivated.
Another strategic partner is the Associazione per gli Studi Giuridici sull'Immigrazione, which has proven expertise in the field of asylum and migration law in Italy. ASGI with its associated and specialized lawyers plays a key role in the entire clinical program by advising, supporting, and supervising the clinical activities at all stages.
The IUC has become in the past years one of the promoters of Clinical Legal Education in Italy, Europe, and beyond. After the creation of its own Clinical Legal Education program, the IUC assisted other universities in effectively establishing this new style of legal education within their academic proposals. In addition, the IUC is involved in the Global Alliance for Justice Education (GAJE), and is a founding member and one of the driving institutions behind the establishment of the European Network for Clinical Legal Education (ENCLE). Finally, the IUC is also a founding member of the Italian Law Clinic Network (Coordinamento nazionale delle cliniche legali).
The IUC Legal Clinics Coordinator, Ulrich Stege, is Co-President of GAJE, Executive Secretary of ENCLE, and Board Member of the Italian Law Clinic Network.