Cyprus Mail

Age-testing of unaccompanied minors violates EU law, NGO says


Migrant support group Kisa on Thursday slammed a proposal tabled by the Elam party mandating the age-testing of asylum seekers claiming to be minors.

In a statement, Kisa called the idea “unacceptable” and said it violated both EU law as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Under the legislative proposal tabled by Elam, amending the existing Refugees Law, age-testing of asylum seekers thought to be minors would be carried out in all cases.

The reasoning behind the proposal is to avoid the “mixing” of minors with adults.

Kisa said that if this were the real concern, the issue could be easily resolved with two administrative steps: first, to have separate areas designated for minors, in cases where asylum seekers are thought to be minors; and second, to speed up the examination of applications of those whom authorities suspect of lying about their age.

The group, which champions migrants’ rights, argued that Elam’s proposal for mandatory age-testing breaches EU Directive 2013/32, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as “all international norms regarding the protection of the rights of unaccompanied minors.”

According to Kisa, these norms provide that medical examinations must be “prospective” – rather than mandatory – and be carried out only with a person’s informed consent.

In addition, such age-testing must take place only if all other means of determining age have been exhausted.

Kisa also pointed out that Elam’s proposal would render the Social Welfare Services co-responsible (along with the Asylum Service) for referring asylum seekers for age-testing.

But this would constitute a clear conflict of interest for the Social Welfare Services, who also happen to act as the custodian and representative of minors while an asylum application is ongoing.

“This legislative proposal is therefore unacceptable in every sense, as it violates EU law, and does so even in terms of the system which the state chose to implement relating to the representation of unaccompanied minors…”

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