Country of origin information (COI)

Up to date information about the human rights situation in the country of origin of an asylum seeker is a key element of the asylum decision-making process, as it forms the objective evidence upon which the authorities of the receiving country decide whether a claim is credible. It is relied on both by the asylum seeker and their representative in presenting their claim, and by the authorities in assessing their claim.

Reports from "authoritative" sources means reports from organisations that the Home Office would likely deem reliable and credible, such as UNHCR, the USA State Department, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch.

Another source of country information is that provided by country experts, who may be asked by an asylum seeker's representatives to submit evidence on their client's behalf, both in writing and/or in court.

We list below some of the main sources used in this process and other relevant information. Please note this list is not exhaustive and will be added to on a regular basis. We welcome any useful additions you may know about.

 

UK sources

Government

The Home Office Country of Origin Information (COI) Service is based in the Research, Development and Statistics (RDS) section of the Home Office. The Service compiles reports on the human rights situation in asylum seeker producing countries for the purpose of assisting UKBA decision-makers. See also its Compendium of COI Sources by country.

UKBA Country Specific Asylum Policy Operational guidance notes (OGNs): these use the COI reports and other sources to provide a brief summary for use by UKBA decision-makers.

The Independent Advisory Group on Country Information (IAGCI) reviews COI material produced by UKBA and provides recommendations to the Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, for his annual report to Parliament. It replaced the Advisory Panel on Country Information 

The UTIAC Reported Determinations Database lists country guideline cases in asylum appeals heard by the Immigration and Asylum Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal (UTIAC), and their predecessors. These decisions provide country guidance. They are drawn from the Tribunals Service's case law database

Asylum Research Consultancy (ARC) provides a country of origin information (COI) research service to support asylum claims and undertakes research, advocacy and training to improve the quality of refugee status determination. ARC also provides a free fortnightly ‘COI Update’ which includes new Country Guidance case law, UKBA publications and developments in refugee producing countries. For more information and to subscribe to ARC’s mailing list please visit www.asylumresearchconsultancy.com

Other

The Electronic Immigration Network hosts a number of relevant resources mostly accessible to members only. These include the Country of Information database, Case Law Database, and ILPA Directory of Experts on Countries of Origin.

The Immigration Advisory Service has produced a series of manuals for their course onhow Country of Origin Information can help win asylum cases'. These cover Iran Iraq Somalia and the Internal Flight Alternative

NCADC Country Information from the National Coalition of Anti Deportation Campaigns (NCADC) compiles information sources to help people seeking leave to remain or fighting removal from the UK.

The Free Movement site provides a similar service, including Continuing Conflicts that Create Refugees - a monthly list of new reports and press items.

Forced Migration Online regional information resource page - resource summaries and research guides for various countries and regions.

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Annual Report on Human Rights in 2009

 

Europe

The European Country of Origin Information Network is managed by the Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation (ACCORD), a department of the Austrian Red Cross. Its extensive resources include the 2010 Common European Union (EU) Guidelines for the processing of Fact Finding Missions (FFMs)

 

 

North American sources

U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, eleventh annual report

U. S. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - January to December 2009

US Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices are submitted annually to the United States Congress.

Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada - Responses to Information Requests

Migration Policy Institute country resource pages

 

 

 

International sources

UNHCR Country Reports are produced by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and cover a general or specific human rights situation in a country of origin. May include reports on the situation of asylum-seekers or refugees in countries of asylum.

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) recent country reports available on Free Movement and older versions here

Human Rights Watch country reports are regularly updated. See also the annual HRW World Report 2010

Amnesty International reports cover the human rights situation in more than 150 countries.

The International Crisis Group advises governments and intergovernmental bodies on dealing with conflicts. Browse their reports by country/region.

Thomson Reuters Alert Net produces ‘crisis briefings' and statistics for different countries.

IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks): A project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs¸ covering Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

HURIDOCS (Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems, International) provides a Human Rights Search Engine to search websites in the field.

The International Detention Coalition campaigns for the human rights of detained refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, and provides a range of data resources on detention.

 

 

 

Issues

Country of origin information is a much disputed territory and itself the subject of research. The Immigration Advisory Service has carried out research into the use of country of origin information; the most recent of which we list below:

The APCI Legacy: A Critical Assessment (2010)

The Refugee Roulette: The role of country information in Refugee Status Determination (2010)

The Use of Country of Origin Information in Refugee Status Determination: Critical perspectives (2009)

Last Updated: 04/02/11

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