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Int Dent J. 2008 Jun;58(3):122-6.

Forensic dental investigations and age assessment of asylum seekers.

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Age estimation is useful in forensic investigations to aid in the process of identifying unknown victims as well as living individuals. In many countries age estimation is commonly used to assist immigration authorities in deciding whether refugees or illegal migrants have reached that designated age that separates a juvenile from an adult. This is particularly important for the protection of unaccompanied minors. Italy is a country of great appeal for immigration as people from other Mediterranean countries can easily reach Italian coasts. In Italy, as in other western world countries, unaccompanied asylum seekers deemed to be under 18 face a very different path through the immigration system. They cannot be deported and are sent through a juvenile system where they have access to education programmes and may be granted a residence permit. The Section of Legal Medicine of the University of Bari was approached by Judges and Immigration Police with the question to assess the age of unaccompanied asylum seekers who claim to be below 18 years of age. The contribution of forensic odontologists for age estimation was recognised and since November 2006 age estimation of asylum seekers in Bari (Italy) relies on clinical and dental examination together with skeletal maturation as seen on radiographs of the left hand and wrist, the pelvis for iliac crests and root development and mineralisation of third molars as seen on an orthopantomogram.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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