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The Council of Europe Committee of Ministers has adopted a new Recommendation to member States on human rights principles and guidelines on age assessment in the context of migration. Through this advice it recommends that the governments of member States take or reinforce, in their legislation or practice, all measures they consider necessary with a view to the implementation of principles and guidelines, so for example:
- States should ensure that a person who undergoes an age assessment is presumed to be a child unless and until determined otherwise through an age assessment procedure;
-a medical examination for age assessment purposes should only be undertaken when reasonable doubts remain about the person’s estimated age once the other measures of the multidisciplinary approach have been exhausted, with the person’s informed consent and with due respect for the principles of proportionality and the best interests of the child;
-the child’s right to private and family life should be guaranteed in the context of the processing of personal data for the purpose of age assessment.
Refugee and migrant children are among the most vulnerable and exposed persons on the move, and this vulnerability together with the risk of being subjected to violence can increase because of their inability to prove their age. The recommendation provides some definitions useful to frame and treat each situation according to its categorization.
Prepared by the Council of Europe Steering Committee for the Rights of the Child (CDENF), this document contributes to the strategic direction provided by both the Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2022-2027) and the Council of Europe Action Plan on Protecting Vulnerable Persons in the Context of Migration and Asylum in Europe (2021-2025). The Recommendation is the first international legal instrument setting human rights standards on age assessment in the context of migration.