Switzerland: Procedural failings when processing an asylum request of an alleged unaccompanied minor

Thursday, July 2, 2020

On 2 July 2020, the Federal Administrative Court published its judgment (Case E-3021/2020) concerning the failure to provide procedural guarantees when assessing the asylum request of an alleged unaccompanied minor.

The applicant, an Ethiopian national, filed a request for asylum in August 2016 claiming to be an unaccompanied minor without identity documents. An age assessment in the form of a radiological examination of his left hand determined the applicant to be over the age of 18. He was therefore heard as an adult and his request for asylum was rejected and his removal from the territory ordered. He later produced an Ethiopian identity card proving his real identity and date of birth. The applicant complained, inter alia, that he was wrongly deprived of procedural advantages conferred on unaccompanied minors.

The Federal Administrative Court noted, inter alia, that when dealing with an alleged minor, the State Secretariat for Migration must adopt appropriate measures and guarantees to ensure the protection of the individual’s rights, including designating a trusted person if there exist doubts regarding the applicant’s age. Moreover, without identity documents, the State Secretariat for Migration was obliged to carry out an overall assessment of elements in favour of or against the applicant’s alleged minority. In this case, despite providing identity documents at a later stage, the applicant was not afforded appropriate procedural guarantees, including the guarantee of trusted person to provide assistance. By depriving the applicant of this right, the hearing rejecting the request for asylum was invalid. The Federal Administrative Court therefore annulled the initial decision remitted the case to the State Secretariat for Migration for a rehearing.

Based on an unofficial translation by the EWLU team. 

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the ELENA Weekly Legal Update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.                               

Procedural guarantees
Unaccompanied minor