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A.H.A. v. Spain

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A.H.A. v. Spain

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

8 July 2015

CRC provisions
CRC, Article 3 (best interests of the child)
CRC, Article 8 (preservation of identity)
CRC, Article 18(2) (parental responsibilities)
CRC, Article 20 (protection of a child without family)
CRC, Article 27 (standard of living)
CRC, Article 29 (aims of education)
OPIC, Article 7(g) (admissibility)

Case summary

A Ghanaian national arrived in Spain and was reported to police as an unaccompanied minor. The Directorate for the Protection of Children and Adolescents launched proceedings to have the boy declared as in need of protection by the State. During medical examinations, authorities concluded that the boy was 19, an adult, and therefore not entitled to special protections as an unaccompanied child. The boy challenged the decision through the Spanish courts, but his case was dismissed, despite his passport and birth certificate indicating that he was under the age of 18.

Issue and resolution:
Admissibility and timing. The alleged violations took place before the complaints procedure entered into force, so the complaint was inadmissible. 

Court reasoning:
The Committee is only permitted to hear complaints about violations of children’s rights that took place after the complaints procedure entered into force in the relevant country. The final court decision in Spain took place on 17 September 2013, but the complaints procedure entered into force for Spain on 14 April 2014. 

Excerpts citing the CRC
“4.1 Before considering any claim contained in a communication, the Committee must decide, in accordance with rule 20 of its rules of procedure under the Optional Protocol on a communications procedure, whether the communication is admissible.”

“4.2 The Committee takes note of the author’s allegations that on 16 November 2010 the General Directorate for the Protection of Children and Adolescents concluded that he was not a minor and informed him that he was not entitled to child protection; that subsequently his judicial applications against that decision were all dismissed; and that on 17 September 2013 the Supreme Court declared inadmissible his appeal in cassation. The Committee observes that all the facts referred to in the communication, including the judicial decision in last instance, occurred prior to 14 April 2014, the date of entry into force of the Optional Protocol for the State party. Accordingly, the Committee concludes that, pursuant to article 7 (g) of the Optional Protocol, it is precluded ratione temporis from examining the present communication.”

CRIN comments
CRIN believes this decision is compatible with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Committee can only consider complaints about violations that took place after the procedure entered into force. It may be possible that where a violation took place before the entry into force and continued afterwards, that the Committee could consider the facts as an ongoing violation under the complaints procedure, but this argument was not addressed in this decision. 

Communication No. 1/2014 (CRC/C/69/D/1/2014)

Link to Full Judgment

This case summary is provided by the Child Rights International Network for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.