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UK: Court of Appeal confirms that unaccompanied minor cases must be determined as “an issue of objective fact”.
On 9 March 2017, the UK Court of Appeal in case Ali, R (on the application of) v The Secretary of State for the Home Department & Ano [EWCA Civ 138] dismissed an appeal by the Secretary of State against a High Court decision of 11 May 2016, which had found unlawful the detention of a Sudanese unaccompanied minor mistakenly considered as an adult by domestic authorities. The High Court ruled that to justify detention it did not suffice to “genuinely believe” or suspect at the time of the detention that the individual was an adult.
The Secretary of State had argued that the word “child” should be construed subjectively, meaning that whether or not the detainee is a child is dependent upon the reasonable belief of the immigration officer at the time of the decision to detain, which was rejected by the High Court. The Court of Appeal concurred with the High Court that the word “child” should be interpreted literally and objectively.
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