On the 6th of February 2023, the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) delivered its communication no. 130/2020. The case concerns S.E.M.A., a Pakistani national, who was not recognised as an unaccompanied minor hence became excluded from social services, education and housing. French authorities disregarded the applicant’s civil status documents and considered his statements inconsistent and his appearance not corresponding to his alleged age.
The CRC first found that France violated Articles 3 and 12 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child by failing to consider the best interests of the child in the age determination procedure taking into account (a) the summary nature of initial age assessment, (b) the lack of a representative or a mother-tongue interpreter during his proceedings, (c) the lack of suspensive effect of appeals, and (d) the lack of examination of submitted civil status documents. Regarding the latter, the CRC declared that the child’s date of birth is part of his identity and so France violated Article 8 by disregarding the submitted identity documents without verification.
Second, the CRC found violations of Articles 20 and 37 (a). The Committee recalled that France is obliged to ensure the protection of any migrant child deprived of his family environment, by guaranteeing, inter alia, access to social services, education and adequate housing. During the age determination process young migrants claiming to be children should be given the benefit of the doubt and treated as children.
Lastly, the CRC found a violation of Article 6 of the Optional Protocol by not explaining its failure to implement the Committee’s interim measures requesting the placement of the applicant in child friendly facilities.
Based on an unofficial translation from within the ELENA-team.