Unicef ​​asks prosecutors to protect Gambian boy who went to UN: “He should be treated like a child”

First, the UN Committee on Children’s Rights raised its voice, then the Ombudsman and the Minister of Youth and Children, Sira Rego. Now it is the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) that is asking the prosecutor’s office to return the juvenile center. Abdu (not his real name), a Gambian boy who claims to be 14 years old and has been on the street for more than two weeks without protection, given that the Ministry of Public Affairs doubts the data contained in his documents certified by the Gambian Embassy.

“When there is doubt about his minority, he should be treated like a child,” says Sarah Collantes, head of migration for Unicef ​​in Spain.

Thus, the UN agency asks the public ministry and the community of Madrid to guarantee Abdu the principle of the presumption of minority and therefore he can return to the juvenile center until the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Resolves his case represented by the Raíces Foundation. “The child protection system needs to help this boy. The committee has spoken in this direction and we hope that it will be implemented soon,” Collantes adds.

“You don’t need to wait for anything else”

A Unicef ​​spokesperson recalled that Abdu’s case is an example of a “recurring” practice in Spain. “It happens very often in our country. No more cases can be left to the presumption of minority, we are leaving the alleged minor on the street unprotected, violating their rights,” he argued. “You don’t have to expect anything else: you have to be treated like a child.”

The boy, who arrived alone in Las Palmas by boat in August, was treated as an adult in the Canary Islands and the peninsula where he was taken to Granada, Barcelona and Madrid. In the capital, he managed to enter a juvenile center, but after a few months, the prosecutor’s office established that he was an adult, even though his passport and birth certificate state that he is 14 years old.

Although the Supreme Court has ruled that children with valid documentation should not be subjected to age-determining tests, the public ministry asked Abdu to conduct these medical tests, which have been questioned due to their wide margin of error and their invasive nature. Based on Supreme Court jurisprudence, his lawyer advised the boy to refuse to comply. The prosecutor, who said he did not trust Gambia’s passport-issuing process, said the boy was over 18 years old.

Regarding the reasons given by the juvenile prosecutor’s office in Madrid, Unicef ​​emphasizes that they are not enough to leave Abdou on the street, while his minority is questionable. “It is important that children cannot pay the consequences of a series of legal-administrative procedures related to international law, they must be protected from the imbalance between the systems, which is why there is the principle of the presumption of minority,” Collantes adds.

The UN Children’s Agency also challenges the misuse of age determination tests in cases where, based on jurisprudence and international law, it would not be appropriate. “The Supreme Court and the Committee on the Rights of the Child say: when there is valid documentation, procedures should not be resorted to, and the state should refrain from invasive procedures that have a very high margin of error,” says Collantes. which recalls that Spain “has an unresolved issue regarding the reform of the age determination procedure” given that “it is not practical according to international standards”. The Spanish government has been rebuked by the United Nations in a dozen opinions, in which the Committee on the Rights of the Child considers that the procedure for determining the age in Spain does not have the necessary guarantees to protect the rights of boys and girls. Convention signed by the Spanish state.

Other support

This Tuesday, the Minister of Youth and Children, Sira Rego, expressed “concern” about Abdu’s case and supported the return of the boy to a juvenile center: “As long as there is doubt in cases like this, the presumption of minority should prevail. old. The law and the importance of the recommendations of the Committee for the Protection of Child Rights are written about this Lto the United Nations”.

The ombudsman also recently made a decision on this case. Last week, Angel Gabilondo asked the state attorney general’s office to take the necessary steps to continue placing the boy in a child protection center “until the procedures initiated before the Committee on the Rights of the Child are completed.”

In response to a complaint filed by the Raíces Foundation, an organization that legally supports the boy, the institution said it had initiated “actions with the Department of Family, Youth and Social Affairs of the Community of Madrid,” which had jurisdiction over the admission. Children, homeless minors.


Source: El Diario

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