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Country of Decision : Norway
Court Name : NO: Supreme Court [Noregs Høgsterett]
Date of decision : 12/12/2019
Type : Judgment
Case Number/Citation/ Document Symbol : Dom HR-2019-2344-A

A., B., C., D. vs The Immigration Appeals Board

The case concerns the validity of the Immigration Board's decision not to grant asylum. The central question is what evidence requirement should be used in determining whether an asylum seeker is over or under 18 years of age.

More analytically, five Afghan boys had applied for protection (asylum) in Norway, cf. Section 28 of the Immigration Act, and stated that they were 15-16 years old. After age assessments, which also included a medical age examination, the immigration authorities considered all of them to be older than 18. The applications were rejected.

The Supreme Court found, like the Court of Appeal, that the general requirement of preponderance of evidence in civil cases,  which is satisfied if there is a greater than fifty percent chance that the alleged fact is credible, must be applied in the assessment of whether the applicants were younger or older than 18 - not a reduced evidence requirement. Neither the Immigration Act nor the preparatory works suggested any other evidence requirement. The application of a reduced evidence requirement could also not be derived from Article 104 of the Norwegian Constitution, Article 3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, or of the General Comments of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. There was no reason to invoke a non-statutory exception from the general evidence requirement, not even when the assessment was made in a child-sensitive perspective. The personal consequences for the applicants were considered against the risk of abuse, however they were not sufficient enough to depart from the general preponderance of evidence principle. It was also pointed out that it concerned a thoroughly regulated legal area that had been subject to difficult political considerations, and where provisions have been laid down relatively recently, implying increased protection of minor asylum seekers. It was also essential that all applicants are treated as children until the application for residence has been resolved.

The Court rules in favor of the State, represented by the Immigration Appeals Board. 

Afghanistan; Age assesment ; Assessment of Application; Unaccompanied minors; Vulnerable Group;

National law only (in case there is no reference to EU law/ECHR);

EASO Annual Report on the Situation of Asylum in the EU

Norway,NO: Supreme Court [Noregs Høgsterett], A., B., C., D. vs The Immigration Appeals Board, 12/12/2019
NO: Supreme Court rules on evidence requirement in age assesment