A Somali minor was released from a guarded centre for migrants, after the Border Guard placed her in detention based solely on X-ray examinations. On many occasions, there are situations in which the age of a minor migrant or foreign woman is determined by the Border Guard solely on the basis of an X-ray of the wrist, the result of which may be erroneous.

Pursuant to a decision of the Regional Court in Radom on November 17, 2023, file no. V Kz 580/23, a minor client of our Association – a 16-year-old Somali citizen, staying in Poland unaccompanied by an adult, was released from a guarded centre for migrants. 

The migrant has consistently declared to the Border Guard that she is a minor – both when she was detained, applying for international protection and during her interview before the Head of the Office for Foreigners. However, her declared age was ignored, due to the determination of her age of majority based on a wrist X-ray. The date of birth was wrongly assumed to be 01.01.2005. The migrant held a copy of a marriage certificate issued by the Somali authorities, which indicated that she was a minor. However, the mentioned document was not taken into account while identyfing her age.

Although the migrant disagreed with the age so determined, she had no legal remedy to challenge it and appeal the Border Guard’s findings. As a result, she was placed in a guarded detention centre for migrants.

Significantly, the Somali national had applied for international protection in Poland. Meanwhile, according to Article 88a(3)(3) of the Act on Foreigners of 13 June 2003, granting protection on the territory of the Republic of Poland, unaccompanied minors seeking international protection cannot be placed in detention. They should be referred to a foster care facility.

Following a complaint against the decision to extend the stay of the migrant in a guarded centre, the Regional Court in Radom found that – despite the findings of the Border Guard made on the basis of an X-ray of the wrist – from the submitted marriage certificate it appears that the migrant is a minor, and in such a factual and legal state, there are negative conditions for the application of the detention measure in the form of a stay in a guarded centre.

The fact that an unaccompanied minor migrant was wrongly considered an adult confirms that the Border Guard’s method of age determination is unreliable and inaccurate. Noteworthy is the fact that the migrant, as an unaccompanied minor, spent more than 4 months in a guarded detention centre for foreigners, despite the fact that she should never have been placed there.

The migrant was legally supported by trainee advocate Kornelia Trubilowicz and legal counsel Zuzanna Kaciupska from our Association.