Research under pressure. Challenges to Researching Country of Origin Information for Asylum Claims (Asylos)
We know surprisingly little about how NGOs and asylum lawyers conduct research for asylum claims. To close this gap, Asylos interviewed 20 asylum lawyers and NGO staff in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece and the UK to understand the challenges of researching evidence, as well as the opportunities for improving the research process. Access the findings in our report
Thorough research is vital for a successful asylum claim. Country of origin information (COI) is used to support specific elements in asylum seekers’ claims. As asylum seekers often lack documents that prove a risk of persecution on return, they rely on information from their countries of origin to illustrate their need for international protection.
Researching country information in the age of internet, big data and social media presents many new opportunities. However, the report shows many challenges as well. After talking to legal representatives across Europe, the researchers of Asylos found that there are common themes in the issues they face:
- All of the respondents agreed that there were too few resources for doing proper COI research. The lack of funding has negative effects. Sometimes there is no budget to hire an academic expert to look at a case, in other cases research is left to asylum seekers themselves.
- There is a lack of methodologies for COI research. The ways legal representatives conduct research now differ widely.
- Legal representatives found that general databases contain too little specific information. Often asylum cases depend on very detailed information, for example on cultural issues that are often lacking in general reports.
- Transparency in government information was often found to be an issue by those defending the rights of asylum seekers.
- Access to court decisions across Europe, potentially useful to evaluate the impact of sources, is often difficult because of differing public access and language barriers.
You can also download the publication on the website of Asylos.