Germany has been criticised in the media for its handling of unaccompanied refugee children, disregarding a ruling from the EU’s top court on their rights to be joined by their families.

As background to the issue, the European Union’s supreme court in April had ruled that unaccompanied minors could bring in their families, even if they had come of age during the asylum process.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the decisive factor was the date when the application for asylum had been made — and not how long it took authorities to process it.

As reported by Deutsche Welle is Germany’s international broadcaster, German law dictates that a refugee must still be a minor when the parents join him or her.

A report in German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung indicated that the German Foreign Ministry, which issues visas, was not correctly implementing the law.

In early September, the Red Cross and the UN refugee agency UNHCR held a closed-doors conference on family reunification. At the event, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Germany would not implement the ECJ ruling.

According to Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office, over 31,000 unaccompanied minors were among asylum seekers registered in the EU in 2017. Nearly 90% of them are males. As a group they accounted for 15% of all asylum applicants and 9,085 applied for asylum in Germany.