The Guardian’s Sally Weale reports that a Sudanese teenager who sought asylum in the UK as an unaccompanied child when he was 15, but was judged by the authorities to be 20, has won a legal battle against the council which was found to have “unlawfully” assessed his age.
The boy, now 17, fled his village at the age of 11 becoming separated form his parents. He travelled to Libya, where he was forced to work in slavery on a farm.
Upon his arrival to the UK in 2019 he was initially treated as an adult by the Home Office, an upper tribunal hearing was told. When Wirral council subsequently carried out an age assessment, he was judged to be “aged over 18 and likely to be aged 20”.
The boy’s case was taken up by lawyers who challenged the finding during the course of a two-day judicial review hearing in December. Eventually, Judge O’Callaghan, ruled the local authority’s assessment to be “fundamentally unfair” and that the age assessment was “conducted unlawfully”. The final judgement concluded that the boy was a young person aged under 18.
Unaccompanied child refugees in the UK are cared for by local authorities as looked-after children and as such are legally required to be in education or training until they are 18. The judgment ensures that the boy will be treated as a child in his asylum claim.
Wirral council regrets not doing their work as they would like to in this occasion and ensure that the boy in question has “…at all times, upon arrival in the Wirral area, been supported by the authority and received education and continues to do so.”