Junk Science? Four Arguments Against the Radiological Age Assessment of Unaccompanied Minors Seeking Asylum
15 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2015
Date Written: January 7, 2015
Should radiological age assessment at all be considered as a means to alleviate the doubts of a decision taker in the asylum procedure? In this text, I ask, first, whether the use of radiological imaging methods in the age assessment of unaccompanied adolescents seeking asylum are in compliance with internal norms of the forensic science community and find that they are not. Second, I consider whether their use is scientifically authoritative according to the current state of the art in forensic medicine and traumatology. I find that they are not. Third, I pursue they question whether their use is sufficiently safeguarded against a particular kind of communicative error between judges and experts. I conclude that they are not. In all, I show that properly understood advice from a forensic science expert who takes into account the scientific issues I enumerated in this article can never dispel doubt on an applicant’s age. According to article 25.5 of the Recast Asylum Procedure Directive, this prevailing doubt will automatically trigger the assumption that the applicant is a child, which is my fourth and last argument.
Keywords: forensic science, radiology, asylum procedure, refugee law, error of the third kind
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