The District Court in Olsztyn, in its judgment of 15 March 2022, II Ko 192/21, awarded compensation in the amount of PLN 20,000.00 for wrongful placement of an unaccompanied minor in a guarded center for foreigners.
The case concerned a 17-year-old who came to Poland with his adult friend. In Poland, he submitted an application for international protection, and thus should be immediately released from the guarded center. Unaccompanied children applying for refugee status in Poland are not allowed to stay in guarded centers for foreigners. The Border Guard, however, groundlessly considered that the boy was not an unaccompanied child, as his older friend looked after him. Only after the Association’s lawyers intervened, the boy was released by the court from the guarded center and placed in a care and educational facility.
By awarding compensation for unjust detention, the District Court found that in the initial period of detention – before identifying and submitting an application for international protection – it was not possible to apply alternative measures to detention. The boy gave false information as to his identity and crossed the border illegally.
At the time of establishing the child’s identity and submitting an application for international protection, further detention was unjustified. The boy, being an unaccompanied minor, could not be placed in the guarded center for foreigners during the proceedings for granting international protection. The court noted that the competent authorities had not taken sufficient steps to establish the actual relationship between the boy and his friend, and that the child was not properly represented in the proceedings against him.
The District Court found that the boy had been unjustly placed in a guarded center for over 4 months. Setting the amount of the compensation at PLN 20,000.00, the Court took into account the fact:
· the boy’s imprisonment,
· the need to submit to the regulations of the facility and
· limitation of contacts with relatives (despite the possibility of maintaining contacts via Skype communicator).
The boy was represented by Lawyer Małgorzata Jaźwińska, a member of the board of the Association of Legal Intervention.