Some in Sweden are question whether young men like Asahh (16) are the age they claim. Photo: Daniel Kihlström/TT
“We want…Migrationsverket (Sweden's Migration Agency) to develop new methods to better judge age,” Morgan Johansson told the TT newswire. “We are not pointing specifically at medical age assessment,” he added. “There are other ways, though discussions for example.”
In his annual ministerial letter to the Migration Agency, setting out goals for 2016, Johansson has requested “a raised level of ambition” on its assessment of the age of those who claim to be under 18, but who are suspected of being adults.
The call falls short of measures demanded by the centre-right Moderate Party, which has called on the Migration Agency to hire doctors to medically assess the age of asylum seekers.
According to TT, Sweden’s social services are developing new recommendations on medical age –mainly because neither paediatricians nor dentists believe the methods are reliable.
In 2014 the Migration Agency raised the age of just 363 asylum seekers, after judging that they were either ignorant of their age or not telling the truth. In 161 cases, this was done as a result of medical assessment.
In 2013, the agency raised the age of 342 people. Figures for 2015 are not yet available.
Fredrik Beijer, Director of Legal Affairs at the Migration Agency told the newswire that asking the question ‘how many asylum seekers are older than they claim’, was like asking a court ‘how many of the people you rule as innocent are actually guilty?’
Until last autumn, when the Migration Agency was overwhelmed by the number of asylum seekers coming into the country, the official procedure was for medical age assessments to be compulsorily carried out whenever there were strong doubts about an applicants’ age.
Since September, however, the Agency has stopped carrying out such checks unless requested specifically by the individual themselves.