Researching country of origin information
Country of Origin Information (COI) is central to refugee status determination. However, the Research Unit at (sadly now defunct) Immigration Advisory Service highlighted serious concerns about the quality of initial decision making in asylum claims in the UK, and in particular the use/misuse of COI. You can download the IAS research into COI here (pdf)
You might find your asylum application refused because UKBA used dodgy info, or because you didn’t have quality legal representation. Or perhaps you are trying to put together a fresh claim, but can’t find a solicitor. Or you want to gather evidence to gain public support for an anti-deportation campaign, or persuade your MP to support you. So, where do you go to source credible country of origin reports?
You can go to an expert research organisation like Asylum Research Consultancy (ARC), which was set up by two former IAS researchers. Whilst the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has a dedicated COI Service, in the current legal aid climate, asylum seekers and their legal representatives may lack time and resources to research the political, legal, human rights and humanitarian situations that force people to flee their countries of origin and to seek international protection. ARC’s case-specific research service is designed to redress this imbalance.
If you can’t get a organisation like ARC to help you, or if you are sourcing information for a campaign rather than an asylum application, here are some links to other sources of information:
Since April 2010, NCADC has been building a searchable online resource, collating country information to help people seeking leave to remain or fighting removal from the UK. As at April 2011, we have published 393 reports. You can also subscribe to the Twitter feed @ncadc_world to receive updates as they are posted. Most of these reports are sourced from the websites listed below.
US Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
The US Department of State publishes an annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The reports are useful resources for reliable, credible evidence in support of applications for asylum and anti-deportation campaigns. The latest reports were published in April 2011, and can be found at the US Dept of State website.
Human Rights Watch World Report
Human Rights Watch’s annual review of human rights practices around the globe summarizes major human rights issues in more than 90 countries and territories worldwide. It is an essential resource for anyone campaigning against removal from the UK.
International Crisis Group
The International Crisis Group is generally recognised as the world’s leading independent, non-partisan, source of analysis and advice to governments, and intergovernmental bodies like the United Nations. Excellent source of news and in-depth, up to date briefings.
Amnesty has a searchable website with human rights reports on more than 150 countries.
LGBT Asylum News
LGBT Asylum News is a great resource for the most up-to-date news and information on immigration and asylum rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The website includes a comprehensive international links section with worldwide contacts for LGBT asylum and immigration groups.
Failed States Index
Fund for Peace publishes an annual Failed States Index, ranking states according to 12 social, economic, political, and military indicators based on data from more than 90,000 publicly available sources.