A new AIDA legal briefing examines the core principles governing the treatment of children in the asylum process, namely the "best interests of the child", and the "benefit of the doubt". The latter principle requires public authorities to treat asylum seekers as children when in doubt as to their minority or majority.
Through an overview of practice in European countries, this briefing identifies areas where these principles are at risk of being sidestepped by asylum authorities when conducting age assessments. The over-reliance of States on medical methods of age determination exposes children too readily to intrusive examinations of dubious accuracy, which are often immune from legal challenge. At the same time, States are often predisposed to treat self-declared minors as adults until their age has been confirmed, thereby exposing them to detention, deportation or the application of the Dublin Regulation.