Belgium: Age assessment decision overturned as reasoning was deemed insufficient

Monday, December 9, 2019

The Council of State recently published its judgment on the contested age assessment in the case of Diallo v the Belgian State (Case 246340).

The case concerned a Guinean national declaring himself a refugee in February 2019 and claimed his date of birth to be 4 January 2002. He was subsequently taken into care by the Belgian Guardianship Service as an unaccompanied minor. The Aliens Office later expressed doubts as to the applicant’s age due to his physical appearance and ordered a medical examination which concluded the age of the applicant to be 26.7 years with a deviation of 2.6 years. The applicant contested the decision arguing that the examiner had offered only a general conclusion and it was unclear how the estimated age was determined. For instance, he argued, inter alia, that a hand and wrist examination found he could be aged a minimum of 17.5 years and that while dental examinations suggested a very high chance the applicant was over 18 years old, they were not conclusive. It was argued that the benefit of doubt should therefore have applied in this decision.

The Court noted that it is the overall result that is relevant in age assessment decisions. However, this decision must be consistent and understandable in light of the individual tests carried out that are used to formulate an overall conclusion. The Court highlighted, inter alia, that an age below 18 was not excluded from examinations of the applicant’s hands and wrists and that it was unclear how the estimated age of 26.7 was determined. It therefore found the statement of reason to be inadequate and annulled the contested decision.

Based on an unofficial translation by the EWLU team.

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the ELENA Weekly Legal Update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is pusexblished but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE.

Obligation to give reasons