"Is the dread founded?" The utilisation and adaption of country information in the asylum procedure

The Belgian Refugee Council (BCAR) presents its analysis on implementation and adaption of European principals concerning COI (Country of Origin Information)

cover BCHV/CBAR report on COI

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Up-to date and in-depth country information are a crucial component of high quality asylum procedures as made a legal requirement in the EU by both the European Procedures- and the European Qualification Directive. Since 2003, the Belgian asylum authorities maintain an internal COI (Country of Information) unit, called Cedoca, in charge to support the protection officers of the CGRA in their decision making process concerning individual protection claims. The unit has at the moment about 40 researchers in charge, following the principals as recommended by the Common EU guidelines for Processing COI and the COI Training Manual of the Austrian Red Cross.

The NGO ‘Belgian Refugee Council’ (BCAR) analyses in its report the implementation and adoption of the European legal rules as stipulated in the above mentioned directives in Belgium.

In its report the BCAR comes to the conclusion that Cedoca is in comparison to comparable COI-units in other Member States a capable body with well trained experts able to support protection officers in their work with high quality analysis. On the other hand BCAR criticise a lack of transparency of Cedoca from their point of view, manifest in the fact that the analysis of the COI-unit are accessible for the asylum authorities exclusively. Against this backdrop the NGO argues that it would be difficult for asylum seekers to disprove the basis of a possible negative asylum decision of the CGRA, based on Cedoca-information.

More analysis and recommendations are accessible in the report, written both in French and in Dutch. A monolingual version both in Dutch and in French will follow soon.

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