“This is not just about asylum procedure, it’s about the safety of the accommodation,“ Sweden’s Justice and Migration minister Morgan Johansson told Swedish Radio. “Adults should live with adults and children should live with children, which is why this should be done as early as possible in the procedure.”
According to the Swedish Migration Agency, more than 18,000 of the young men and women might warrant medical age tests this year and next year.
Sweden’s migration law gives strong incentives for asylum seekers aged 18 or over to claim to be minors, and the Agency believes there is reason to doubt the claims of as many as 70 percent of asylum applicants who say they are between the ages of 15 and 17.
The tests are controversial in Sweden, however, with doctors arguing that there is as yet no method of reliably determining a person’s age.
In April, the National Board of Health and Welfare judged that MRI scans of asylum seekers’ knees provided the most reliable currently available age tests.
At the end of last month, the government gave The National Board of Forensic Medicine responsibility for carrying out the new tests. It has now launched an inquiry into how best to carry them out, which is due to report in November.
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Ann Lemne, project manager at the organisation, underlined the shortcomings of existing methods in a press release sent out in May.
“There is no method for medical age assessment can be safely determine an exact age,” she said. “With all methods, the result is produced as an age span.”