Junk Science? Four Arguments Against the Radiological Age Assessment of Unaccompanied Minors Seeking Asylum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Should radiological age assessment be considered as a means of alleviating thedoubts of a decision maker in the asylum procedure? The present article addressesthis question through a number of steps. First, it questions whether the use of radiologicalimaging methods in the age assessment of unaccompanied adolescents seekingasylum complies with the internal norms of the forensic science community. Itdoes not. Secondly, the article considers whether the use of these methods is scientificallyauthoritative according to the current state of the art in forensic medicineand traumatology. It is not. Thirdly, the article asks whether their use sufficientlysafeguards against a particular kind of communicative error between decision makersand experts. It does not. The article shows that properly understood advice from amedical expert who takes into account the scientific issues enumerated in this articlecan never dispel doubt about an applicant’s age. According to article 25(5) of theEuropean Union (EU) recast Asylum Procedures Directive, this prevailing doubt willautomatically trigger the assumption that the applicant is a child, which is the article’sfourth and final argument.


  • Gregor Noll
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Law


  • Human Rights, Migration Law, Public International Law, Human Rights Law
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-250
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Refugee Law
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication categoryResearch