Age determination (human)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As age determination when people are called to determine the life age .

A certain age plays a role in many areas of the law because it in individuals a number of rights and obligations depends how the capacity , action and process ability , criminal responsibility and various provisions of the families -, social -, asylum and right of residence . The concerns of age determination are of international importance, for example for safeguarding children's rights or the collection of statistical data from a national or regional census with regard to population development or the nutritional situation. This applies above all to countries with an inadequate or completely missing birth register.

The age determination or age estimation of corpses (parts) and skeletons helps in the identification of unknown dead. Legally significant is less the age than the time of death of a deceased person, for example in inheritance law . The estimated age is important for archeology as it helps with anthrological and sociological questions.

It is possible to determine the age of people using official identification documents that prove the date of birth, for example a birth certificate . When determining the age of people without or with unrecognized ID, an assessment is first made through a qualified inspection and survey. In cases of doubt, medical examinations or medical measures are arranged by the responsible authorities and carried out by forensic doctors.

Age determination methodology

Non-medical methods

A non-medical method is to determine the age on the basis of certificates or other documents.

In the case of persons without identification documents, the administrative procedure according to 26 VwVfG consider the inspection during a conversation, the questioning of relatives or acquaintances and the assessment of external characteristics. Since there are no scientific standards for this, the method has a large potential for error.

Medical methods

In terms of medical methods, a distinction must be made between medical examinations such as visual dental age diagnostics by assessing the teeth or determining the maturity of the teeth as well as physical maturity and medical measures in which X-ray diagnostics , computed tomography or magnetic resonance tomography to assess teeth, carpal bones or hand or collarbones is used.

Medical methods have greater objectivity than non-medical methods, as there are scientific standards for this and the measures are carried out by scientifically trained specialists.

Medical measures on living people require the informed consent of the person concerned so that the doctor carrying out the procedure is not guilty of a bodily harm offense. The disadvantage of X-ray diagnostics on living people is that the body is exposed to X-rays. An X-ray of the hand results in a radiation exposure of 0.1 microsievert , a panoramic layer image of the jaw of 26 microsievert and a shoulder CT of 400 microsievert. In the case of x-ray examinations for the purpose of age estimation in criminal proceedings and within the scope of the Residence Act, the x-ray examination must not be detrimental to the health of the person to be examined. There is no limit below which radiation can be regarded as completely harmless. The case law on the question of the admissibility of X-ray examinations outside of criminal proceedings is inconsistent. By way of comparison: the average German citizen receives around 2000 microsieverts from X-rays per year, plus 1000 to 2000 microsieverts from normal ambient radiation .

In order to avoid stochastic damage from artificial ionizing radiation, EU Directive 2013/59 (Euratom) requires a justifying indication for medical use . In Germany this applies according to § 23 of the X-ray Ordinance , whereby § 25 allows cases provided by law.

During the diagnosis, the chronological age of the living person concerned is deduced from the individual biological age . The reference studies used for this purpose should meet the following requirements as far as possible: adequate sample size, reliable information on the age of the test subjects, even age distribution, gender segregation, information on the time of the investigation, clear definition and methodology, information on the reference population according to genetic-geographic origin and socio-economic status, as well as information on group size. The core forensic statement is, depending on the research assignment, the most likely age, whether a certain age can be correct or whether an age limit has been exceeded. Depending on the research assignment, the significant age information is to be evaluated verbally with regard to its probability.

If delayed or accelerated skeletal maturation cannot be ruled out, the age estimate for the assessment of an individual bone or tooth is subject to a variance of ± 2 years. The spread can be further reduced by multifactorial examination. The working group for forensic age diagnostics recommends the combination of a medical examination and, as a medical measure, an X-ray examination of the left hand and possibly also of the collarbone as a generally recognized method.

Methods such as the analysis of skeletal maturity , age-related diseases such as osteoarthritis and hardening of the arteries , or changes in bone structure are primarily used on the deceased . Thanks to modern fine-resolution imaging methods, such diagnoses are increasingly also possible in vivo. Information can also be derived from the size and number of traces on the osteons , a structure in bone tissue.

The dental examinations include the visual assessment of the teeth and the determination of the tooth maturity . The age of the deceased can be estimated taking into account the tooth eruption times, the root dentine transparency, the degree of racemesis of aspartic acid in the dentine, and the degree of cement annulation (counting of "annual rings" in the tooth cement ).

Genetic Studies

With epigenetic methods, the age can be approximated with an accuracy of 1 to 3 years. This method was first published in 2013 by Steve Horvath , a statistics professor at the University of California, Los Angeles .

Based on the fact that the activity of certain genes changes with increasing age ( DNA methylation ), a DNA-based molecular assessment of age can be carried out using methylation analysis.

Practical importance of being a minor

Criminal proceedings

The age limit relevant for criminal responsibility is according to Section 19 of the Criminal Code (StGB) is 14 years of age when the offense is committed. Children under the age of 14 are generally incapable of guilt , so they always remain unpunished.

Juvenile criminal law applies to young people up to the age of 17. In the case of adolescents (18 to 20 years of age), depending on their moral and intellectual development, either juvenile or adult criminal law can be applied. The following applies to the question of the applicability of juvenile criminal law according to Section 1 (2) of the Juvenile Court Act (JGG):

  • Younger is someone who is fourteen at the time of the act, but not yet eighteen.
  • An adolescent is someone who is eighteen at the time of the act, but not yet twenty-one years old.

The procedural basis for determining age is Section 81a of the Code of Criminal Procedure (StPO). According to this, a physical examination is permitted without the consent of the accused if there is no reason to fear any harm to his health. Whether a medical X-ray examination is proportionate has to be decided in each individual case by a judge, if the success of the examination is jeopardized by delay, also by the public prosecutor. An X-ray examination to determine the age is permitted according to the principle of proportionality only after taking into account the strength of the suspicion and the gravity of the crime.

Residence law procedure

If there are doubts about the age of a foreigner , measurements and similar measures, including physical interventions, carried out by a doctor according to the rules of medical art for the purpose of checking, ascertaining and securing the identity of persons who have reached the age of 14, are permitted the determination of the age can be carried out if there is no reason to fear that the foreigner's health will be harmed. Doubts about the completion of the 14th year of life are to the detriment of the foreigner ( § 49 Abs. 3, § 49 Abs. 6 AufenthG ). These measures are to be tolerated ( Section 49 subs. 10 AufenthG).

The age determination is according to the Residence Act for the determination of the capacity to act in accordance with Section 80 (1), the protection of minors during deportation in accordance with § 58 Paragraph 1a and when executing deportation custody acc. § 62a para. 3 necessary and is incumbent in accordance with Section 71 (1) to the immigration authorities .

Asylum procedure

The age determination is necessary in the asylum procedure to assess the capacity to act according to Section 12 (1) Asylum Act (AsylG) and for the implementation of asylum procedures according to Regulation (EU) No. 604/2013 (Dublin III) . The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees is responsible for determining the age in accordance with Section 24 AsylG due to its general responsibility for ascertaining the facts. When a foreigner is apprehended by the border authority in accordance with Section 18 (1) AsylG or when the respective immigration authority or the police of a country deal with asylum applications in accordance with Section 19 AsylG, the authorities mentioned may be involved in determining the age within the scope of their responsibilities.

From the guarantees for unaccompanied minors acc. Article 25 (5) of the EU Asylum Procedure Directive shows that if a medical examination has been carried out to determine the age, doubts about the age of majority lead to the assumption of minority in the asylum procedure.

Youth welfare procedure

If a person who has entered the country declares to be a minor, the local youth welfare office is obliged to take temporary care in the interests of the child's best interests until a minor can be safely excluded. In some cases, these people never had their own passport, could not take it with them when they were fleeing, or their identity papers were withheld by smugglers. Obtaining the necessary documents from your home countries is usually very difficult or even impossible. According to the principle of official investigation , the youth welfare office is obliged to assess the age of children and young people from abroad in accordance with Section 42f of Book VIII of the Social Code in the version of the Act to Improve the Accommodation, Care and Care of Foreign Children and Adolescents if no identification documents are available. The age assessment is carried out through a "qualified inspection". Several experienced youth welfare workers question and observe the person in the interview situation. The overall impression, which, in addition to the external appearance, particularly includes the evaluation of the information on the development status obtained in the conversation, is used for the assessment. A medical age assessment can only be ordered by the youth welfare office if there are doubts about a possible minority.

From the relevance of the medical measures to fundamental rights, it follows that the principle of proportionality must be observed in the selection. The initiating authority must select the appropriate, necessary and appropriate means and must not leave it to the medical practitioner's discretion to select any examination method.

The medical age determination is the exception in the practice of the youth welfare offices. Most of the time, decisions are made on the basis of a qualified inspection and questioning of the person, supported by an interpreter or language and cultural mediator.

Legal policy dispute

The Federal Association of Unaccompanied Minors Refugees (BumF) , an association of refugee and youth welfare organizations, positioned itself in 2015 - supported u. a. by the German Medical Association - against the medical age determination and tried to convince various state governments to expose this as unethical. Thereupon issued z. B. the red-green state government of Baden-Württemberg in May 2015 the youth welfare offices recommended:

"If the age of an unaccompanied foreign young person cannot be determined with sufficient reliability within the framework of a qualified inspection, depending on the situation, an additional medical examination ... should not provide any additional, valid gain in knowledge."

Since May 2015, the rate of refugees classified as of legal age by the youth welfare office has fallen from 40% to 20%. At the initiative of the black and red federal government ( Merkel III cabinet ), the amendment to Section 42 f of Book VIII of the Social Code came into force in October 2015, which ordered a medical age estimate in cases of doubt. This paragraph was u. a. in Baden-Württemberg ignored by the youth welfare offices in accordance with the state government. In November 2015, medical age tests were no longer common in Baden-Württemberg.

The German Society for Forensic Medicine accuses the German Medical Association that the allegations are "rationally incomprehensible" and that the study situation is presented in a distorted manner. The forensic scientists Andreas Schmeling , Reinhard Dettmeyer, Ernst Rudolf, Volker Vieth and Gunther Geserick stated in a joint article in September 2015 at Deutsches Ärzteblatt , published in early 2016:

“The application of the minimum age concept ensures that the forensic age of the assessed person is by no means given too high, but is practically always below the actual age. If the determined minimum age is above the legally relevant age limit, exceeding this age limit is proven with a probability bordering on certainty. "

After Maria Ladenburger was murdered in 2016, UMF called for an obligatory age test. "Why could Hussein K., the murderer of the Freiburg student, claim that he was 17, even though he was about ten years older?" Asked Lydia Rosenfelder two years later in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung . As an argument in favor of a compulsory age test at UMF, she cited that an unaccompanied minor refugee costs the state five times more per year than an adult. On the occasion of the criminal case in Kandel 2017 , the Prime Minister of Saarland Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) called for a nationwide procedure for age determination at UMF. In the Saarland, 35% of the medical examinations found that the persons examined were actually adults. The domestic policy spokesman for the Union parliamentary group, Stephan Mayer (CSU), made a similar statement . Boris Palmer (The Greens) calls for a reversal of the burden of proof "in view of the considerable costs and obvious dangers posed by this group of young men". UMF without ID would have to prove that they are a minor and, in case of doubt, also consent to a medical age estimate. The Prime Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate Malu Dreyer (SPD) said she saw no need for changes.

In January 2018, Dieter Birnbacher stated that the German Medical Association only criticized the medical age determination of unaccompanied refugee minors, but not of the determination of criminal responsibility in criminal proceedings, by stating that there was a higher demand for tolerance of errors than in criminal proceedings.

The director of the Forensic Medicine Institute at the University Medical Center Hamburg, Klaus Püschel , considers the medical age determination in 2018 to be useful. In the past, medical examinations in Hamburg showed that 3/4 of the people examined were much older than claimed.

Even the chairman of the Working Group for Forensic Age Diagnostics, Andreas Schmeling, cannot understand the position of the German Medical Association, because according to the current legal situation, youth welfare offices are already obliged to obtain a medical opinion in cases of doubt.

The president of the professional association of paediatricians said in January 2018 that general practitioners are happy when they can care for their regular patients. The examinations to determine the age are medically difficult and organizationally hardly manageable.

In March 2018, 23 youth welfare and refugee aid organizations pointed out that the age assessment under youth welfare law is not in a factual context to questions of crime detection and prevention and that, contrary to what is suggested in the public discussion, since 2015 there has been a nationwide legal basis for age determination in youth welfare law Procedure exists. The deficits reported at the youth welfare offices would be enforcement deficits caused by the high number of immigrants in 2015 and 2016 and a simultaneous change in the nationwide distribution procedure. The associations therefore spoke out against a change in the law on age assessment under youth welfare law.

Age determination at the U-17 soccer world championship for men

Only players who are less than 17 years old are allowed to take part in the U-17 World Cup . There have been allegations in the past that participating players were significantly older. For the 2017 U-17 World Cup, the FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Center carried out an age assessment of randomly selected players using the Tanner and Whitehouse method with magnetic resonance imaging . The procedure is unsuitable for women of the same age.


A child found in a baby hatch is called a " foundling ". The date of birth and thus the age is unclear due to the anonymous submission of the child. According to the Personal Status Act (PStG), the birth of a child must be reported to the responsible registry office within one week. In the case of home births, the father, midwife, attending doctor and everyone else who knows about the birth, last but not least the mother, are obliged to notify them. In the case of hospital births, the hospital management takes responsibility for the notification. In the case of foundlings and anonymous births, the doctors, midwives, nurses, administrative staff and the management of the operator of the baby hatch or the anonymous birth opportunity assume this obligation. In general, anyone who finds a newborn child must report the find to the local authority, usually the registry office, no later than the next day. After the assessment by the health department, "newborn" foundlings (children up to an estimated age of 8 weeks according to the interpretation of § 24 PStG) and people of uncertain age ( § 25 PStG) are given a place and date of birth by the Registry office set.

Regulation for the social benefit procedure

For the decision on age- related social benefits , with effect from January 1, 1998, § 33a SGB ​​I stipulated that the date of birth that the beneficiary or his relatives first indicated to the social benefit provider or employer is decisive for both the insurance number and in the event of a benefit unless there is a typographical error or a different date of birth results from a certificate drawn up before the initial age was given.

For benefits from the statutory pension insurance , a certificate from the registry office stating the day of the birth is required; only the year of life is not sufficient. As a rule, an identity card, passport, baptismal certificate or other are recognized as proof of retirement age instead of such a document. If these documents are not available for the pension applicant, documents from other institutions certifying the birth may also suffice. This includes B. the extract from a church book.

There are still requests for age estimates from social courts and from abroad. Morphological methods are too imprecise at this age, so that, if available, only radiological examinations from childhood, adolescence and early adulthood can be used. Since this is often not possible, the ethically and legally questionable way remains to carry out a biochemical dentin examination via the extraction of a tooth at the request of the client . The attending dentist has to make the decision about the existence of a medical indication, since otherwise there would be an offense of bodily harm.


If there are doubts about the minority, a “multifactorial examination” for age diagnosis can be carried out in an asylum-law admission procedure, regulated by law in Section 29 (6) 2 AsylG , Section 13 (3) BFA- VG.

This examination is defined as "a model for age diagnosis based on three individual medical examinations (in particular physical, dental and X-ray examinations) based on the state of the art" (Section 2, Paragraph 1, Item 25 AsylG).


According to Art. 17 Para. 3bis AsylG , the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) can arrange for an age assessment if there are indications that an allegedly minor asylum seeker has already reached the age of majority.

See also


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Terry Smith, Laura Brownlees: Age assessment practices: A literature review & annotated bibliography . (PDF; 1.2 MB) Publication by UNICEF , April 2011; accessed on January 9, 2018
  2. a b c Eva Britting-Reimer: Age determination in Germany and in a European comparison . (PDF; 1.6 MB) Publication by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), February 2005.
  3. Effectiveness of the consent in medical measures . In: Federal Association of Careers . (PDF; 1.5 MB)
  4. Norbert Lossau: This is how great the radiation exposure is when X-raying the hand. In: , January 2, 2018.
  5. Schmeling et al. a .: Forensic age diagnostics . In: Ärzteblatt . January 29, 2016, p. 45.
  6. Lydia Rosenfelder: Children with Beards. In: FAZ. January 7, 2018.
  7. Norbert Lossau: This is how great the radiation exposure is when X-raying the hand . In: The world . 2nd January 2018.
  8. Principles of radiation protection . In: Federal Office for Radiation Protection . May 22, 2017, accessed January 15, 2018.
  9. Updated recommendations of the Working Group for Forensic Age Diagnostics for Age Estimates in Living Persons in Criminal Proceedings (PDF) Forensic Medicine 2008/6. October 4, 2008 (PDF; 175 kB)
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  11. A. Schmeling , C. Grundmann, A. Fuhrmann, H.-J. Kaatsch, B. Knell, F. Ramsthaler, W. Reisinger, T. Riepert, S. Ritz-Timme , FW Rösing, K. Rötzscher, G. Geserick: Updated recommendations of the working group for forensic age diagnostics for age estimates of living people in criminal proceedings . (PDF; 175 kB) In: Working group for forensic age diagnostics .
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  22. ↑ Questions of responsibility for determining the age of underage foreigners and the coming of age . Scientific Services of the German Bundestag, WD 3 -3000-044/16, February 2016, p. 3 f.
  23. Directive 2013/32 / EU (PDF)
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  49. Federal law that regulates the general provisions on the procedure before the Federal Office for Immigration and Asylum for the granting of international protection, the issuing of residence permits for reasons worthy of consideration, deportation, tolerance and the issuing of measures to terminate the stay as well as the issuing of Austrian documents for foreigners (BFA-procedural law - BFA-VG) RIS , accessed on February 9, 2019
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