The appellant is a Bangladeshi national who was rescued and disembarked in Malta in December 2021. He was directly detained upon arrival and later declared that he is a minor during the lodging of his asylum application and was referred for the age assessment procedure. He was still in an age assessment procedure with no final decision when he filed an appeal against his detention order but was later assessed to be an adult by the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers (AWAS). This initial decision was appealed in front of the same Board.
The Board noted that the case was initially to be heard before Immigration Appeals Board, Division I, but that a conflict of interest was registered by the Board due to the role of one of its members in the Minors Care Review Board.
The appellant’s representative questioned whether there was a similar conflict of interest before Division II given that the same Board also decides the Age Assessment Appeals. The Board advised the appellant that an objection should be registered if the appellant’s representative felt that Division II had a conflict of interest to hear both cases. The appellant’s representative declared that he wished to proceed with the hearing as this would delay the detention of the appellant
The appellant declared that he should be presumed a minor until a final decision is taken on his age and complained that his detention was not in accordance with Article 14(1) of S.L. 420.06 since it is not a measure of last resort.
The Board relied on the fact that the appellant rectified his date of birth during the asylum procedure to deem the detention to be lawful. However, the Board decided that until the Age Assessment Appeal is decided, the appellant is to be transferred to the Buffer Zone within the AWAS Open Centre under those conditions that are considered appropriate and necessary by AWAS.
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