Scores of refugee ‘kids’ in Denmark are adults

In nearly three fourths of cases investigated by immigration authorities, refugees who claimed to be minors were found to be adults upon further examination but global statistics show that knowing one's age is not always so simple.

Scores of refugee 'kids' in Denmark are adults
Photo credit: Søren Bidstrup/Scanpix

In a recent report published by the Danish Immigration Service (Udlændingestyrelsen – DIS), it was revealed that in 2014, a number of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in Denmark supplied incorrect information about their age.

The number of individuals who sought asylum under the status of an unaccompanied minor rose dramatically from 354 in 2013 to a total of 818 in 2014. Some 80 percent of these were classified as having a stated age between 15-17.

Of those 818, DIS investigated the age of 282 refugees and found that 203 of them, or 72 percent of the questionable cases, were actually above the age of 18 despite claims to the contrary.

See also: Denmark grants asylum to nine of ten refugees

“If there are doubts about the verity of an asylum seeker’s claim to be under the age of 18, an age examination is conducted,” DIS explained in its report.

An age examination entails medical specialists assessing a person’s age based on their teeth, bones and a genital examination.

See also: Syrian refugees resort to hunger strikes

A 2011 commission concluded that it was possible to determine a person’s age within a year’s accuracy by such an examination. However, the head of the commission, Bent Ottesen, noted that these tests should only be used as supporting evidence.

“Such an examination will always have a certain degree of uncertainty and should if possible not be the sole basis for assessing a person’s age,” he told MetroXpress.

See also: Four of ten refugees fail language test

According to UNICEF, the births of nearly 230 million children under the age of five worldwide, or around one in three, have never been recorded, meaning that they cannot document their age and, in many cases, do not even know their exact age.

Danish People’s Party MP Peter Skaarup said that his party would push for the coming government to conduct more age examinations on unaccompanied minors, arguing that they are lying about their age.

See also: Danish populist right secures blue bloc win

“When you discover that there are so many who are cheating, then we should be testing more of them. It should also have a consequence on their chances of being granted asylum,” he told MetroXpress.

On the other hand, Socialist People’s Party MP Jonas Dahl told MetroXpress that he believes that refugees should be given the benefit of the doubt.

“If you are not one hundred percent certain [about the accuracy of the age examination, ed.], then you should not be making a verdict based upon such a test,” he argued.