Nazaj Age assessment in the context of migration: presumption of minority, exceptional use of medical examination, other standards set by new Recommendation

© Council of Europe - Illustration: The Port Creative

© Council of Europe - Illustration: The Port Creative

The Council of Europe Committee of Ministers has adopted today a new Recommendation to member States on human rights principles and guidelines on age assessment in the context of migration.

Refugee and migrant children are among the most vulnerable and exposed persons on the move. Being unable to prove their age can increase this vulnerability and the risk of being subjected to violence, exploitation, abuse and/or becoming victims of trafficking.  The Recommendation, with its Explanatory Memorandum, is the first international legal instrument setting human rights standards on age assessment in the context of migration.

“Adequate assessment of refugees’ and migrants’ age is key to providing children and young people with the support they are entitled to and to preventing all forms of exploitation”, said Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić. “This new Council of Europe Recommendation will guide our member states in ensuring that the process upholds the rights of the child.”

Among others, the Recommendation includes the principle of presumption of minority for persons undergoing age assessment and requires member States to implement multidisciplinary and evidence-based age assessment procedures. It reminds to member States that a medical examination for age assessment purposes should only be undertaken when reasonable doubts remain about the person’s estimated age once the other measures of the procedure have been exhausted.

Prepared by the Council of Europe Steering Committee for the Rights of the Child (CDENF), the adopted Recommendation contributes to the strategic direction provided by both the Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2022-2027) and the Council of Europe Action Plan on Protecting Vulnerable Persons in the Context of Migration and Asylum in Europe (2021-2025).

Strasbourg 14 December 2022
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