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Key Words Archives: Age assessment

A.M. v. The Principal Immigration Officer, 5 November 2021

The applicant was a Bangladeshi national who was rejected from his asylum application and served with a removal order before he was referred for an age assessment procedure by the competent authorities and assessed as an adult following a bone test despite providing his birth certificate. He appealed this decision and challenged the results of the bone test as being inaccurate.

In the meantime, the appellant requested a review of his detention to be held in front of the Immigration Appeals Board and argued that the possibility to apply less coercive measures was never assessed in his case and that due consideration should be given to the fact that he is a minor assessed as an adult through an inaccurate procedure.

The Board noted the physical appearance suggesting the applicant is young and considered that there are sufficient grounds to believe that the appellant could be a minor and should therefore be released pending the result of the age assessment appeal. The Board considered that since this was an appeal on the removal order and not on a detention order, the appellant must file a request for bail if he wants to be released.

The Board upheld the request for bail subject to a care and custody order in favour of the appellant issued by the relevant authority. The person/guardian who will have care and custody of the appellant was to accompany the appellant to the Police station to sign every Friday from 7:00am – 7:00pm. The Board is also to be informed of the address as to where the appellant will be residing and must immediately inform the authorities if he goes missing. Additionally, the Board imposed a 1000 Euro deposit as a guarantee by the person who is going to have full care and custody.

However, the applicant was never released since his appointed representative (legal guardian) refused to act as the guarantor.

Source: PDF with the case

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Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly: A study of immigration detention practices and the use of alternatives to immigration detention of children

This study from the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) provides an overview of issues relating to immigration detention practices, and promotes the use of alternatives to immigration detention of children (ATDs). The study argues that the main idea behind ATDs is identifying options which provide state authorities with a degree of control over asylum seekers while allowing for a basic freedom of movement. ATDs need to be regulated in order to avoid the arbitrary imposition of restrictions on liberty or freedom of movement and, even when alternatives apply, access to legal aid should be given to migrants, especially to children.

Source: official link

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EASO, Practical Guide on Age Assessment (2nd edition)

The EASO Practical Guide on Age Assessment acknowledges, inter alia, that the benefit of the doubt in age determination procedures is a key principle and safeguard since none of the currently available methods of age assessment can determine a specific age with certainty. So, if after the age assessment remains the doubt that the individual could be a child, they should be treated as such.

Source: official link

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Directive 2013/32/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 on common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection (recast)

The recast “Asylum Procedures Directive” is a recast of a previous Directive (Council Directive 2005/85/EC of 1 December 2005), with implementation deadline of 20 July 2015. The Directive sets up common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection (refugee status and the protection given to people who are not refugees but who would risk serious harm if returned to their country of origin). The Directive enshrines the presumption of minority and further provides requirements on how age assessment should be carried out (art. 25).

Source: official link

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10.K.27.051/2018/5. National Court Decision (2018. February 7th)

The case concerns two siblings, an afghan national with a legally accompanied minor who submitted asylum applications on October 24th 2017. The asylum authority suspended their procedure based on the information they gathered from the EURODAC system and the Dublin Regulation. Eventually the authority proceeded with an inquiry towards the Bulgarian authorities to determine that they are responsible to conduct the asylum procedure however, the Bulgarian authorities refused to do so, since they registered both asylum seekers as minors. The Hungarian asylum authority then conducted a medical examination of the applicants and determined that one of the applicants was of legal age. Thus, they contacted the Bulgarian authorities again to which they recognized their responsibility to conduct the asylum application procedure. The applicants requested a review procedure before a national court against the order in which the Hungarian authority determined the responsibility of the Bulgarian authorities. The court annulled the decision and ordered the asylum authority to examine the applications on their merits. Although the applicants did not contest the accommodation order of the asylum authority, the court highlighted that based on the asylum procedures directive an applicant may only reside in the transit zone for a period of four weeks [Article 31(8), Article 43(2)] which was violated since the applicants should have been granted entry to Hungary.

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M.M. v. The Principal Immigration Officer

The appellant is a Bangladeshi national who was rescued and disembarked in Malta in September 2019. He declared to be a minor born on 01 January 2003 upon arrival and was directly detained. The appellant was detained on health grounds until June 2020 where he was issued with a removal order. The appellant complained to his lawyers that he orally requested to apply for asylum but was never registered by the IPA and therefore was illegally issued with a removal order. Following the lawyer’s intervention, the appellant was released and formally registered as an asylum seeker in November 2020.

In the meantime the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers (AWAS) declared the appellant to be an adult in October 2020, the appellant’s lawyer filed an appeal before the Immgration Appeals Board and the case was first heard by Division II in November 2021.

In August 2021, the appellant was apprehended at Malta International Airport trying to embark on a flight to Italy in possession of fraudulent documents. He was handed a six month effective prison incarceration. Upon his release from Corradino Correctional Facility in December 2021, the appellant’s return decision was “re-activated” and the appellant was transferred to Safi Detention Centre pending removal to Bangladesh.

However, the Immigration Police was informed by the appellant’s lawyers that the appellant was still an asylum seeker and, following confirmation by the International Protection Agency, the appellant was issued with a detention order based on S.L. 420.06 which transposes the Reception Directive, in April 2022. The detention order was directly appealed while the decision on the age assessment appeal was still pending.

The appellant requested his immediate release in view of the excessive duration of his detention which amounted to a total of 14 months in Safi Detention Centre and 6 months in Corradino Correctional Facility and the unlawful enforcement of his removal order taken in June 2020 while still an asylum seeker claiming to be a minor.

The Immigration Appeals Board confirmed the detention order issued in April 2022 to be legal in view of the fact that the risk of absconding is real, also considering the fact that appellant tried to abscond from Malta to be later apprehended and handed a 6 month effective incarceration.

Nonetheless, the Immigration Appeals Board decided that in view of the fact that the appellant’s age assessment was still ongoing, the appellant must be presumed a minor. The Immigration Appeals Board therefore ordered the appellant to be shifted to the buffer zone within AWAS Open Centre under those conditions that are deemed appropriate and necessary by AWAS.

Source: PDF with the case

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