France – Administrative Court of Appeal of Douai, 19 September 2017, N° 17DA00024

Country of Decision:
Country of Applicant:
Date of Decision:
19-09-2017
Court Name:
Administrative Court of Appeal of Douai, 2nd chamber
Relevant Legislative Provisions:
International Law > UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
National / Other Legislative Provisions:
France – Code of Entry and Residence of Foreigners and of the Right of Asylum
France – Law 91-647 of 10 July 1991 on Legal Aid
France – Code of Administrative Justice
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Headnote: 

The benefit of the doubt benefits the minor.

Facts: 

The applicant, M. Rems M., requests the Administrative Court of Appeal of Douai to quash the decision of the Administrative Tribunal of Rouen which rejected his application for asylum in France and ordered him to leave the territory.

Decision & Reasoning: 

Subject to article L.511-4 of the French Code of Entry and Residence of Foreigners and of the Right of Asylum, no foreigner under the age of eighteen years old can be subject to an order to leave the territory. It is for the administrative authorities to establish that the person in question was not a minor at the time of the order to leave the territory and that it could not benefit from the protection of the right of asylum.

On the one hand, the applicant’s birth certificate from the Guinean administrative authorities indicating that he was born on 24 June 1999 and two orders emanating from the Tribunal for Children’s Rights of Rouen sending M. Rems M. to the social assistance services suggest that he was a minor at the time of the order to leave the territory. On the other hand, the results of a bone test produce by the Prefect of l’Eure suggest he was nineteen years old.

The Administrative Court of Appeal of Douai recalled that bone tests for age assessment have a margin of error, and because there is an element of doubt about the age of the applicant in view of the entirety of the elements discussed above, it concludes that the minor should have the benefit of the doubt.

Outcome: 

Appeal granted.

Subsequent Proceedings : 

AIDA Legal Briefing No. 5: “Detriment of the Doubt: Age Assessment of the Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children”

UK,  11 November 2017: The UK Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) ruled in case AS, R (on the application of) v. Kent County Council, concerning the application of the principle of the benefit of the doubt in age assessment cases: “It does not mean, contrary to the applicant’s submission, that if a decision-maker concludes that a child is between 15 and 17 years old, application of the benefit of the doubt would lead to a decision that he or she is 15.”

Observations/Comments: 

This case summary was written by Clara Gautrais, LPC student at BPP University.