The United Nations Human Rights Committee delivered in November  2017 an important decision on the rights of the child in cases of deportation. Namely, the Committee concluded that the Danish authorities’ decision to deport a child to Greece without taking special child specific safeguards into account and considering his asylum application could amount to a violation of his rights not to be subjected to acts contrary to Articles 7 and 24 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

An individual petition to the Human Rights Committee was submitted by a Syrian citizen under the OYKA initials, who applied for asylum on the Greek island Chios in 2015. He became homeless and lived on the streets for about two months after seeking support from the Greek authorities without success. Due to the living conditions in Greece, the applicant travelled to Denmark where he lodged an application for asylum. His application was rejected on the grounds that Greece was his first country of asylum. While appealing against this decision, he explained that he had given an incorrect date of birth to the Greek authorities and that he was in fact an unaccompanied minor. The applicant complained before the Human Rights Committee that his deportation to Greece would violate his rights under Articles 7 and 24 ICCPR, which prohibit torture, inhuman and degrading treatment and guarantee special protective measures for children.

The Human Rights Committee noted that several reports indicate that people granted refugee status in Greece are not provided with accommodation by the local authorities. In particular, it took into account reports such as the UNHCR Recommendations for Greece in 2017 according to which the treatment of certain categories of vulnerable persons, such as unaccompanied minors, is inadequate. The Committee also considered that the applicant’s inconsistencies with regard to his age did not exempt Denmark from taking other reasonable measures to remove doubts concerning his age and his right to obtain the special measures of protection that would have been available for a minor, including taking into account information regarding the conditions of reception of migrant minors in Greece. Therefore, it found that the applicant’s deportation to Greece, without taking such special measures and reviewing the applicant’s claim, would violate his rights under Articles 7 and 24 ICCPR.