German doctors criticize age tests for refugee minors

AFP/The Local
AFP/The Local - [email protected] • 3 Jan, 2018 Updated Wed 3 Jan 2018 16:26 CEST
image alt text

While conservative politicians including the country's Interior Minister support medical tests for all asylum seekers who claim to be minors, the German Medical Association says such tests are unethical.

The German Medical Association has rejected a Christian Social Union (CSU) proposal for mandatory medical examinations to determine the age of asylum seekers. 

"Ordering such an exam on every refugee would be an invasion of personal well-being,” the association's president Frank Ulrich Montgomery told Süddeutsche Zeitung.

CSU Bundestag (German parliament) members plan to decide during their closed session, which starts this Thursday, whether to enforce medical exams to assess the age of all alleged minor refugees.

This proposal comes after violence in Kandel, Rhineland-Palatinate, in which a 15-year-old Afghani boy - who had come unaccompanied to Germany in 2016 as an asylum seeker - is suspected to have fatally stabbed his 15-year-old girlfriend.

READ ALSO: Teen suspected of fatally stabbing girl was victim's ex-boyfriend: investigator

After the case in Kandel, several Christian Democrats (CDU) and CSU politicians called for the age of refugees to be checked by means of an X-ray of the wrist.

But Montgomery argues that “X-ray without medical indication is an intervention in physical integrity.”

According to rules of radiation protection, age determination is only permissible within a criminal proceeding. In the case of the 15-year-old Afghani suspect, he could now legally undergo an X-ray exam to determine his age.

Genital exams can also be included in age determination procedures, which Montgomery said was “burdened with great uncertainty.”

In 2016, the central ethics commission of the German Medical Association had moreover questioned both the reliability and constitutionality of medical age assessments.

Meanwhile Germany's Interior Minister, Thomas de Maziere, of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) on Wednesday advocated medical tests to estimate the age of undocumented young asylum seekers, despite objections from health care professionals.

The minister in charge of domestic security, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, has thrown his support behind the controversial tests, stating it was "not too much to ask if they have to actively participate in determining their age".

He called for rules stating that "in all cases where no official and genuine document can be produced, the age must be determined by other means, if necessary through a medical examination."

SEE ALSO: 'Teen' asylum seeker on trial for Freiburg murder is 33, says father



AFP/The Local 2018/01/03 16:26

Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also