A Child or An Adult? Protection of foreigner citizens’ rights in the age-determination proceedings and detention proceedings

Research project „ A Child or an Adult? Protection of the rights of foreigner citizens in the age-determination proceedings and detention proceedings “ aims to design a suitable act of law for age-determination of foreigner citizens in case this question becomes disputable during certain proceeding (on detention, administrative expulsion or asylum proceeding) and the foreigner does not possess documents through which his/her real age could be identified.

In Slovakia, due to unclear legislative regulation (absence of detailed process legislation, selection of an appropriate method of age-determination), there comes to serious cases of mistakes when the age of an examined foreigner citizen is assessed incorrectly. Entering adulthood brings serious legal consequences that influence the whole life and every action taken by the person. That is why the age of the examined person has to be identified unequivocally and accurately. In case this is not possible, “the benefit of the doubt” principle is applied in favor of the minority age.

The wrist x-ray method is being phased out (or has already been completely phased out) abroad, while it is still being used in Slovakia. Through this examination, radiologist provides an estimated bone age of the foreigner citizen, however it is never a real chronological age. The differences between the bone (or dental or overall biological) age and real (chronological) age can be major which has been proved by pediatrists, radiologists and other experts who deal with age-determination issues.

Project’s main goal is the protection of fundamental rights of foreigner citizens in Slovakia, especially the fundamental right of not being stripped of personal freedom in a way that is different from cases established in Article 5 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and Protection of Fundamental Rights  of the Child according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Endorsement of expert dialogue in the area of protection of fundamental rights of foreigners in detention proceedings. From a long-term perspective, the project will influence the improvement of legal status and legal security of foreigner citizens in Slovakia in the area of detention proceeding and with this associated guarantees of the detention legitimacy according to Article 5 paragraph 4 of the Convention and with regards to the international commitments of Slovak republic in the area of protection of the rights of the child.

Project outcomes are:

  1. Publication of the translation of the latest recommendation of the Separated Children in Europe Programme  /“SCEP“/
  2. Publication of a comparative analysis in Slovak and English language which will be focused on comparison of methods of the age assessment of foreigner citizens in Slovakia with selected countries of EU and will contain a proposal of recommendations on how to improve the given methodology of the age assessment in Slovak republic.
  3. Organizing a conference on detention and age assessment of foreigner citizens at the Faculty of Law at the Trnava University in Trnava where sphere experts from abroad will be invited and results of preliminary analysis will be presented. After the project implementation is finished, acceptance of the suggested amendments and measures will be initiated.

Project is being realized with financial support of the Government office of Slovak republic within the Fund programme of the Deputy Prime minister of Slovak republic for Human Rights and Minorities, Endorsement and protection of Human rights and freedoms. The sole responsibility for the content of this document lies with Human Rights League, civic association.

01.10.2012 to 31.03.2013