French Constitutional Council Approves Bone Test For Migrants

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The French Constitutional Council
(FCC) approved on 21 March, the implementation of bone tests to determine the
accurate age of young migrants.  The bone
examinations of the hand and wrist will help determine whether a migrant is a
minor or an adult.

Medical experts and lawyers
criticized the method and described it as outdated and unreliable. The FCC
admitted that the hand X-rays may not be reliable due to the tests having a
significant margin of error.

However, the FCC believes that the
effectiveness of the tests would be the responsibility of the proper
administrative and judicial authorities.

According to the FCC, the law
provided sufficient guarantees that would ensure the rights of each subject
would be respected.

Lawyer Isabelle Zribi, speaking outside
the Constitutional Council, claimed that there was a high improbability with
the practice and results will be inconclusive:

“There are many causes of error on
these tests.”

Zribi added that the margin of error
is quite significant and should not be ignored. The test could have a margin of
error of 2 to 3 years in determining the migrant’s age.

Zribi argued that the procedure is
inaccurate, citing an example that someone could have bones that looked to be
18 years of age but was actually only 14. 

“There is no scientific truth in bone
testing and you will find no one today who says the opposite,” she said.

Jacques Toubon, the head of the
Defenders of Human Rights organization, said that he has vehemently opposed to
the tests which he described as “ill-adjusted, inefficient, and undignified”.

The Constitutional Council clarified
that a bone test can only be requested if the person in question did not have
valid documents to verify his/her identity and if it seems not possible that
the person is as old as he/she has stated.

It can only intervene after “the
informed consent of the person concerned has been obtained in a language he
understands”.

The Council stated that, if the
migrant is declared a minor, he will be entitled to the protection provided by
law.  If he is declared an adult, the
street awaits him, or a return to the border.

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