THE state is likely to face dozens of legal challenges after introducing controversial language analysis tests to determine where exactly asylum seekers are from.

Immigration officials said there had been a growing tendency for would-be refugees to claim to come from war-torn regions in an attempt to "sex up" their asylum claims.

However, genuine asylum seekers – who speak unusual tribal languages – have also been caught out by the so-called language experts, the Sunday Tribune has learned.

In one case, an African asylum seeker was forced to go through a language test over the telephone with a person who did not even speak her dialect.

Her asylum claim was still refused and only after the refugee appeals tribunal received correspondence from her legal team was the decision revoked.

Brian Allen, a former missionary in Africa who is fluent in a number of East African dialects, said the "language analysis" tests in use in Ireland were seriously flawed.

He said: "I have been working as an expert witness for Bajuni [tribal group in Somalia] asylum seekers since 2002. During that time, I have given face-to-face nationality tests to almost 200 Bajuni asylum seekers.

"During the past year, increasing numbers of Bajuni asylum seekers in both the UK and Ireland are given short telephone 'language tests' on applying for asylum.

"I have now analysed 10 of these tests in detail and have several more pending. I have serious concerns regarding these tests.

Allen said in some cases newly arrived asylum seekers were being forced to go through "language tests" over the phone when they had never even used a telephone.

He said: "The voices of the applicants on many of the recordings seem afraid and confused. Many of the recordings indicate that the conversation was disturbed or interrupted, often repeatedly. In one recording, the interviewer gets involved in an argument about a key with someone in the room while the interview is proceeding."