UK: Unaccompanied child asylum seekers: Home Office age assessment policy unlawful

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"The High Court has ruled that the Home Office policy on judging the age of unaccompanied children seeking asylum is unlawful. Ministers have, up until now, allowed immigration officers to treat as an adult anyone they believe seems to be ‘significantly over the age of 18’.

In this case, a 16 year old boy was detained by the Home Office in an adult immigration removal centre for two weeks before being released. Social workers from Wolverhampton City Council had undertaken an age assessment which confirmed he was 16, but he was locked up before this result was passed on to the Home Office...

The High Court found that the boy, from Sudan, had been unlawfully detained and was entitled to damages. The ruling, by Mr Justice Silber, found that the question of an asylum seeker’s age is a matter of ‘objective fact’. The consequences of this ruling mean that subjective and non-expert assessments of age, and detaining on the basis of a ‘reasonable belief’ that a person is significantly over 18, is unlawful."

See: Home Office policy on age-disputed children ‘unlawful’, rules High Court (The Justice Gap, link)

And the judgment: THE QUEEN on the application of AA v SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT [2016] EWHC 1453 (pdf)

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