News

20 June 2022

Greek Ombudsman for Children’s Rights issues an opinion regarding the unlawful age assessment of an unaccompanied minor on Kos.

This action is in response to our communications, interventions, and objections on behalf of our client, who was subject to an intrusive and unlawful age assessment procedure, despite being in the process of obtaining original documents from Afghanistan. The unaccompanied minor was also quarantined for 14 days with adults and was not appointed a guardian.

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Ombudsman’s findings:

  1. Found that the method of examination, namely, a sexual maturity exam is “de facto” an intrusive method, especially when applied to unaccompanied minor asylum seekers, who are in a vulnerable position. Stressed that the age determination procedure should use the “least intrusive methods” and with full respect for the dignity of the applicant. Inquired whether any other applicants had been subject to the same procedure.
  2. Expressed concern that the assessment was done by a ‘general practitioner’ when the Ombudsman's Office has stated in a report that "(...) the procedure should be entrusted to independent, qualified professionals with the appropriate expertise and familiarity with the child's ethnic/cultural background."[1]
  3. Expressed concern that the Reception and Identification Services (RIS) referred the client to the age assessment procedure although Equal Rights had informed them that his original documents were in transit from Afghanistan. Stressed that the prescribed age determination procedure should be followed, subject to reasonable doubt as to age, only in cases where it is not possible to establish age through identification documents.
  4. Stressed that the authorities must ensure that a guardian is appointed where an age determination procedure takes place.
  5. Raised concern about the fact that the decision issued by RIS was “pre-written”, included no individualised assessment, and referenced non-existent decisions.
  6. Expressed concern regarding the fact that an unaccompanied minor was subject to a 14-day health quarantine together with adults, despite indicating that he was an unaccompanied minor. Inquired whether there has been separate accommodation for unaccompanied minors during quarantine.

For the full Ombudsman opinion here.

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[1] Ombudsman, Annual Report 2018, The rights of children on the move https://www.synigoros.gr/resources/docs/ee2018-kdp-dikaiom-paid-pou-metakin.pdf p. 158

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