Age assessment in unaccompanied minors: assessing uniformity of protocols across Europe

Marco Cummaudo, Zuzana Obertova, Niels Lynnerup, Anja Petaros, Hans de Boer, Eric Baccino, Maryna Steyn, Eugenia Cunha, Ann Ross, Pascal Adalian, Elena Kranioti, Tony Fracasso, Maria Teresa Ferreira, Philippe Lefèvre, Stefano Tambuzzi, Robin Peckitt, Carlo Pietro Campobasso, Oguzhan Ekizoglu, Danilo De Angelis, Cristina Cattaneo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Age assessment of migrants is crucial, particularly for unaccompanied foreign minors, a population facing legal, social, and humanitarian challenges. Despite existing guidelines, there is no unified protocol in Europe for age assessment. The Forensic Anthropology Society of Europe (FASE) conducted a comprehensive questionnaire to understand age estimation practices in Europe. The questionnaire had sections focusing on the professional background of respondents, annual assessment numbers, requesting parties and reasons, types of examinations conducted (e.g., physical, radiological), followed protocols, age estimation methods, and questions on how age estimates are reported. The questionnaire's findings reveal extensive engagement of the forensic community in age assessment in the living, emphasizing multidisciplinary approaches. However, there seems to be an incomplete appreciation of AGFAD guidelines. Commonalities exist in examination methodologies and imaging tests. However, discrepancies emerged among respondents regarding sexual maturity assessment and reporting assessment results. Given the increasing importance of age assessment, especially for migrant child protection, the study stresses the need for a unified protocol across European countries. This can only be achieved if EU Member States wholeheartedly embrace the fundamental principles outlined in EU Directives and conduct medical age assessments aligned with recognized standards such as the AGFAD guidelines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)983-995
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Legal Medicine
Volume138
Issue number3
Early online date27 Jan 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2024

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