On 14 February the European Court of Human Rights indicated an interim measure ordering Italian Government to transfer two unaccompanied minors from a reception center for adults in Cona to a facility adapted for children. The Court further communicated complaints by the applicants on the conditions in the reception center and the procedures for age assessment.

The minor children lived in the reception center of Cona, which was severely overcrowded at the time, hosting 1,400 persons while it only had a capacity of 500 persons. Moreover, the sanitary facilities were inadequate and there was no proper heating in the center. The applicants therefore complained that the conditions in the reception center exposed them to inhuman and degrading treatment.

Following a request for further information by the Court, Italy stated that the two applicants were 18 years old, based on X-ray examinations. The applicants however hold that the procedure for the age assessment has been carried in violation of national and international law. Among other things, they stated that Italy failed to indicate the margin of error which exists when doing X-ray examinations and that Italy only used X-ray examinations of the hands, instead of a multidisciplinary approach which also includes a pediatric visit and a psychological evaluation. It is the first time that the procedures for age assessment of unaccompanied minors are questioned before the Court. According to the applicants there were no protection measures taken by the Italian authorities even though they were unaccompanied minors and there were no procedural guarantees with regard to the procedures for age assessment, in violation with their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.

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Photo: ASGI