One of the greatest difficulties for young asylum-seekers can be proving that they are under 18 and therefore legally a child. Under this status, they have (or should have) access to additional protection, resources, and support. In the current hostile environment that fosters a widespread ‘culture of disbelief’ towards people on the move, age claims are increasingly disputed. For instance, in her new Plan for Immigration announced in March 2021, British Home Secretary Priti Patel called for ‘a robust approach to age assessment’ and use of ‘new scientific methods to improve abilities to accurately assess age’. In 2019, the French Conseil Constitutionnel similarly validated the use of skeletal maturity tests for young migrants. Both decisions were widely criticised by organisations such as Médecins Sans Frontières, the Ligue des Droits de l’Homme or Safe Passage for complicating further the already difficult situations young asylum seekers find themselves in during their journeys and in their host countries.
Bringing researchers across various disciplines together with practitioners, this panel aims to examine recent and historical development of age-based migration control and the challenges they represent for humanitarian actors.