The enforcement of a sentence requires that, at the time of the crime, the suspect has reached the age of criminal responsibility according to the Swedish Criminal Code (SFS 1962:700) as well as the Conventions on the Rights of the Child and also implicit in other international agreements. Similarly, until 2017, the Swedish Young Offenders Special Provisions Act (SFS 1964:167) required that for the use of coercive measures, a person who was on reasonable grounds suspected of a crime which might lead to a prison sentence had to have reached the age of criminal responsibility. The requirements for a body examination were extended at the time in the Swedish Code of Judicial Procedure (SFS 1942:740) to also include situations where there is an uncertainty concerning the suspect’s age. The extension regarding body examinations was a consequence of the aftermath of the refugee crisis of 2015. Uncertainty concerning the age of a person seeking asylum had led to discussions on what methods to use in order to determine a person’s age. The issue was also raised in criminal cases where the age of a suspect was unclear and concerned, more precisely, the burden of proof regarding the age of a suspect and the legal grounds for a body examination when estimating a suspect’s age. In this article I will with reference to the fundamental principles of proportionality, predictability, equal treatment and consistency scrutinize the legal grounds for a body examination when there is an uncertainty concerning age and the suspect claims to be under the age of criminal responsibility in relation to Article 3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child that states that ‘the best interests of the child shall be…’ and similarly in Article 24:2 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights ‘the child’s best interests must be a primary consideration’. Furthermore, I will explore what impact the practice of a body examination in those specific situations may have from a gender and diversity perspective. At the extension of the requirement of the legal grounds for a body examination in 2017, the child’s best interests were not taken into consideration. From a gender and diversity perspective, this extension implies the preservation of a prevailing structure that men with a foreign background commit more crimes than men and women born in Sweden.
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