Our new lawyer in asylum law Liina Laanpere joined the team full-time in the beginning of 2018, but already during last autumn she started to acquaint herself with the activities of our refugee program. We asked Liina some questions so we could all get to know her better.
1. What is you background?
I recently graduated with an LLM in international human rights from University College Cork in Ireland. I have a BA in law from Tartu University. Before starting at EHRC, I worked at the Estonian Embassy in Dublin. I also have done several human rights related internships and voluntary work in Romania, Croatia, Switzerland and Germany.
2. Why did you decide to apply for the position and move back to Estonia?
This is exactly the kind of work that I studied for and something that I really wished to do. I have been interested in asylum law for a long time – it started from a will to help and understand and evolved into a legal interest. During my master studies I specialised in asylum law. I am extremely happy to put my knowledge into practice and actually help people through my work.
3. What do you think of the work EHRC has done so far?
In my view, the centre’s activities in all areas are very important. Thanks to the work of EHRC’s lawyers, there has been great progress in protecting the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. Free legal counselling has helped to improve the overall quality of the asylum procedure and strategic litigation has reduced unjustified detention of irregular migrants, especially children and vulnerable persons.
4. In your opinion, what are the main challenges for human rights in Estonia today?
The recent Human Rights Report provides a good overview of the situation and I wouldn’t like to place one challenge over another. Personally, I can best assess the situation with asylum seekers and refugees, where the main problems are access to legal aid in the border crossing points, sanctions for irregular border-crossing, excessive detention and of course the overall false conceptions of refugees in the Estonian society.
5. What kind of improvements for asylum seekers and refugees would you like to see as a result of your work?
I hope I can offer high quality legal aid to those who are in need and that it will speed up and improve the asylum procedure and protect the human rights of asylum seekers and refugees. Also, when I find that someone’s rights have been violated, I hope to improve the situation and change practices through legal intervention and strategic litigation.
Since you are here...
It is important to protect everyone’s human rights, because it helps to keep stability and peace in the society. There are many challenges for protection of human rights in Estonia: intolerance has really come out of the closet. Bad things happen when good people are too passive, but together we can make a change.
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