You have just read that there are different rules for minor asylum seekers than for other asylum seekers. Many of these minor asylum seekers think that it is much easier to get a residence permit as a Minor Unaccompanied Foreign National. In order to investigate if someone is genuinely a minor the IND does research.

The IND does research in various ways: through conversations and by means of ‘optic viewing’. This means that based on appearance, behaviour, and for instance contradictory declarations by various civil servants, it is established that the foreigner is obviously an adult.

When there is doubt, the asylum seeker is offered to prove their age. In order to do so, maximally five X-ray photographs are made, of the wrist, the hand and the collar bone, by two radiologists. If people are younger than 20, the bone has not completely closed yet. The bone core is not entirely grown into the bone. For people who are older than 20 this would be the case.


There is a lot of criticism of this medical examination. Human rights commissioner Thomas Hammarberg of the Council of Europe criticizes the Dutch age assessment for young asylum seekers. According to him this research is ‘not precise enough’. The X-ray photographs unnecessarily subject young people to radiation and the research can be ‘stressful’.

Defence for Children International (DCI) has been doubtful of the reliability of age assessment. “We hope that the minister will take this criticism seriously now”, Martine Goeman of the children’s rights organisation says. “Everywhere in Europe there are fierce discussions going on about the age assessment, except here.”

5) What doubts does DCI have about the age assessment? What do you think is this criticism?