The Advice on Individual Rights in Europe (AIRE) Centre is a specialist legal charity whose mission is to promote European law rights and assist marginalised individuals and those in vulnerable circumstances to assert those rights. The Centre does this by taking cases to domestic and European Courts (ECtHR and CJEU), providing legal advice to lawyers, advisers in the voluntary sector, and to individuals directly, and carrying out training, drafting reports and other publications.

The AIRE Centre has a proven track record with regard to the law of the sea and its interface with asylum law, contributing to the evolution of the European Court of Human Rights’ jurisprudence on the issue in view of contemporary developments. The Centre’s involvement in Hirsi Jamaa and Others v. Italy stands as testament to its expertise in this field; acting as a third-party intervener in a case that shaped the way Member States treat asylum-seekers on the high seas, setting precedents critical to the development of both the law of the sea and asylum law. Furthermore, The AIRE Centre tempered its expertise in asylum law by submitting a written intervention, along with other interveners, in Sharifi and Others v. Italy and Greece. The AIRE Centre lawyers have long standing expertise on issues relating to the overlap between the law of the sea and European asylum law. For instance, Nuala Mole (AIRE Centre Founder and Senior Lawyer) has been involved in over 120 cases before the ECtHR and has written extensively on the issue of stowaways; Markella Papadouli (AIRE Europe Litigation Coordinator and Registered European Lawyer) despite specialising in asylum law also holds an LLM in Maritime Law from the University of Southampton. The AIRE Centre is currently being contacted by a number of organisations engaged in search and rescue in the Mediterranean for the provision of tailored legal advice as well as specific training on SAR related issues such as the legal duty to rescue and identification of trafficking victims on board vessels. Furthermore, The AIRE Centre sits in the both the Frontex NGO Consultative Forum and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) Consultative Forum, a position which allows it to keep its finger on the pulse of European law and policy developments regarding maritime search and rescue operations as well as issues of border management.

Currently, the AIRE Centre is actively involved with the Search and Research Observatory for the Mediterranean (SAROBMED) group, providing strategic legal advice and consultation for SAR organisations on a variety of pressing issues. The precariousness of seafaring migration, an increased operational presence at sea, and the dangerously grey area between genuine, effective humanitarian aid and the crime of smuggling and trafficking in human beings creates an environment that demands the proper knowledge and expertise of trained professionals. Consequently, the Centre delivers training to first responders, rescue NGOs and international bodies on the early identification of victims of trafficking and indicators to look out for when assisting persons at sea.

Related SAR Organisations