The case concerns an Egyptian teenager who crossed the Polish-Belarusian border. When arrested by the Border Guard, he was a minor. Despite this, he was not recognised as an unaccompanied minor migrant. Both the Border Guard and the Court who ruled on the detention found that he was in the factual custody of another migrant who had crossed the border with him. Both migrants were placed in a guarded centre with a family profile. The Border Guard conducted an X-ray wrist examination with the Appellant, which confirmed that he was a minor.

Soon after being placed in a guarded centre for foreigners, the migrant declared his willingness to submit an application for international protection. While submitting the declaration, he still remained a minor. Another migrant detained in the centre was appointed as a guardian in the course of the international protection proceedings. This was a person unfamiliar with Polish law and language, older than our client by only a few years, who could not represent him reliably. Migrants waited more than a month to apply for international protection. A few days before submitting the application for international protection, the migrant became an adult and was therefore transferred to a male-profile detention centre for foreigners.

In the complaint, we indicated that the detention of the migrant was unlawful and arbitrary. As an unaccompanied minor declaring his willingness to apply for international protection, he should not be held in a guarded centre for migrants. The migrant waited more than a month to apply for protection, which demonstrated unwillingness from the authorities. Furthermore, when placing a minor migrant in detention, there was no examination of whether his deprivation of liberty was compatible with the duty to safeguard the best interests of the child. His individual situation was not considered in any way in the detention order.

In the complaint we also highlight that the detention violated the migrant’s entitlement to private and family life. The migrant was not informed about his rights and obligations as an unaccompanied minor. Both the Border Guard and the Courts that ruled on the case failed to investigate what relationship the teenager had with the migrant, who was wrongly considered to be his actual guardian.  The complainant was not aware of the impact of the X-ray wrist result, which confirmed that he was a minor. He had limited contact with the outside world and his family during his stay in the guarded centre for migrants. His stay in detention had a negative impact on his well-being, especially after he was transported to a male-specific centre.

The complaint was lodged in February 2024 and we are waiting for the case to be communicated to the European Court of Human Rights.

The migrant is represented by legal adviser Zuzanna Kaciupska from our Association.

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