The European Court of Human Rights has ruled against Italy for the "inhuman and degrading treatment" of a young Gambian migrant who was treated by authorities as adult and placed in a shelter for adults, despite having informed them he was a minor.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled against Italy for violation of the rights of a young Gambian migrant whose disclosure of being a minor was disregarded by the authorities who proceeded to treat him as an adult, detaining him in an overcrowded shelter for migrants for over four months.
Italy was sentenced for violation of the minor's right to private life and for the inhuman and degrading treatment he received.
The ECHR ruled that the Italian state must reimburse the minor a total of €7500 for moral damages and an additional €4000 for the sustained legal expenses.
The Ousainou Darboe v. Italy Case
An initial court document explained that at first the case plaintiffs were Ousainou Darboe, of Gambian nationality, and Moussa Camara of Guinean nationality, both presumably born in 1999. However, due to Moussa Camara's unknown whereabouts, the Court canceled this part of the appeal.
The youngster from Gambia arrived in Sicily on 29 June, 2016, when he was allegedly 17 years old. Initially he was hosted in a center for unaccompanied foreign minors, but three months later he was transferred to a shelter for adults in the town of Cona, in the region of Veneto, in northern Italy.
At that same time he was given a health insurance card where his recorded date of birth was February 22, 1999. A month later, following the request of the prefecture, a local physician conducted a medical examination to establish his age.
The report issued by the physician stated that his bone age, established by x-rays of the minor's left wrist and hand, according to the Greulich and Pyle methodology, corresponded unequivocally to the age of an 18-year-old male.
The plaintiff stated that he was not asked for consent before taking the physical exam and that he was never given a copy of the medical report.
Only after the intervention of lawyers, and following the Court in Strasbourg, was the minor able to have a second age test administered, which revealed that he was indeed a minor and was followed by his transfer to a Center for minors.
The violations identified by the Court
The ECHR's ruling unanimously found that the case presented violations of the following: art. 8 (the right to private and family life) and the European Convention on Human Rights for the lack of procedural guarantees for Darboe due to the fact he was a migrant minor.
Therefore, he had not been able to present his request for asylum and was placed in an overcrowded migrant shelter for adults for over four months; a violation of art. 3 (ban of inhuman and degrading treatment) with regard to the length and conditions of the adult shelter where the minor was placed; and the violation of art. 13 (the right to a fair trial).