REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

The Office for the Commissioner for Children said that they have inquired about the alleged minors arraigned on Saturday in relation to the case of El Hiblu 1.

Three youths aged 15, 16 and 19 have been accused of forcefully taking over the merchant vessel which responded to a distress call, rescuing 108 asylum seekers at sea. Among those rescued were women and children.

READ: 5 of the 100 migrants held by Police

Newsbook.com.mt has contacted the Commissioner for Children over the case, in which it was asked for a reaction over the way the youths were arraigned in court through the front door, whether the Commissioner for Children will follow the proceedings, whether someone from the Office was present in court during their arraignment and whether the Commission would make sure that their rights as children will be guaranteed.

A spokesperson for the Office of the Commissioner said that the Office inquired about the alleged minors involved saying that the age assessment is still pending. The Office also said that they were informed that the relevant authorities are looking into the matter.

Sources told Newsbook.com.mt that once the age assessment confirms that they are indeed minors, the children would be placed under care order would have a social worker assigned to them. This would also be the case if they apply for asylum, since they are unaccompanied minors.

It is not yet clear whether the youths will be tried separately or together, this is at the discretion of the Attorney General.

On Saturday morning the youths were hauled in court in full view rather than using the back door on Strait Street. The court has banned the publication of the names of the two minors however they were still taken through the main door. This raised concerns whether the published photos and videos went against the Juvenile Criminal Court Act Article 8 (1) and 11(2).

Article 8 of the Juvenile Court Act prohibits newspaper reports, or sound or television broadcasts from revealing name, address or school or any particulars that may lead to the identification of any child or young person concerned in the proceedings in the Juvenile Court.

Through Article 11, Article 8 applies also to proceedings in front of the criminal courts when minors are involved.