University of Oslo refuses to age test asylum seekers

UDI Logo, minor asylum seekersLogo UDI. Photo Norway Today Media

The University of Oslo (UiO) will no longer age test unaccompanied asylum seekers who come to Norway and claim to be under the age of 18 years old. The reason for this is ethical considerations, confirms prorector Ragnhild Hennum to Universitas.

The University has earned a good deal of money on the tests and in 2016 the Directorate of Immigration (UDI) forked out nearly NOK 14 million for these tests, according to documents disclosed by Universitas, the newspaper for students at UiO .

The Faculty In 2015 and 2016 age tested a total of 3,501 asylum seekers. The faculty will fulfil the current contract with the UDI, which expires in late March, but will not deliver a new tender.

In recent years the practice has been that the Faculty of Dentistry has x-rayed the teeth of asylum seekers, while a private company has taken x-rays of the hand and carpus. The results were then evaluated by an experienced paediatrician of the Barnesak Company.

 Weaknesses in the method

In December , the Norwegian Medical Association’s Council for Medical Ethics concluded that  the methods of Barnesak AS, which assessed the test results from the University of Oslo, was in violation of the ethical rules for doctors.

– As a professional I am of the same opinion as the Association; it is highly reprehensible and unethical to use methods that are inherently weak and a large deviation from the standards.

This applies in the highest degree when the consequences are as big as they are for those who are subject to these tests, says paediatrician Ellen Annexstad Universitas.

Four out of ten deemed to be over 20

This year Immigration planned to hand over the responsibility for age tests to the forensic scientific community of Norway.

The Judicial Forensic Institute (RMI) has so far been a subsidiary of the Institute for Public Health, but was at the turn of the year transferred to UiO.

What happens to age testing in the future has not been clarified.

In Norway age tests were resumed around 2005 after reactions to adults living alongside children at reception centres meant for minors.

More than 40 percent of the age assessments conducted last year resulted in the applicant was deemed to be 20 years or older.

UDI has operated with a security margin of two years, so that asylum seekers who have reached 20 normally doesn’t get a stay as a child, which triggers a number of rights adult asylum seekers are not entitled to.

Currently a review of the test methods are made by RMI, and does not recommend that dental examination will be continued due to lack of scientific evidence to validity.


Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today