Country of Origin Information Experts
Today there is widespread consensus on the importance of Country of Origin Information (COI), considered an integral and indispensable factor in asylum decision-making. This page provides General COI Information, access to our COI Experts Database, and gathers the main COI Global Databases and Useful COI Resources.
General COI Information
Country of Origin Information (COI) are used in Refugee Status Determination (RSD) procedures or in procedures relating to other forms of international protection. Accurate, reliable, relevant, current, objective, traceable and transparent COI is central to inform decision makers about conditions in the countries of origin of asylum applicants and to assist them in establishing objective criteria as to whether an asylum claim is well founded.
Comprehensive COI aims to answer questions about countries of origin relating to, for example, the socio-economic, legal, political, human rights, conflict, and humanitarian situation, the presentation of ethnic groups and cultural traditions in a country at a given time.
COI facilitates and supports decision-making processes but does not dictate decisions. It is distinct from country guidance and legal assessments. COI constitutes evidence in the international protection procedure and is important in making a fact-based assessment of international protection needs.
COI experts have achieved years of academic and practical experience about a particular country that qualifies them to provide expertise information and objective evidence on an individual claim for refugee status.
As the users of our website are often vulnerable and in precarious situations, we scrutinise every request and require our Experts to adhere to set standards prior to inclusion in our database. However, the Rights in Exile Programme cannot assume responsibility for the quality of their work.
Most of the COI experts listed in our directory have agreed to work pro bono (voluntarily) for non-governmental organisations that do not charge refugees for their legal services. Other COI experts work for a very reduced fee. Others do charge, and we have tried to indicate this information when provided.
Researching Country of Origin Information outlines the role and relevance of COI for people seeking international protection. It presents quality standards for the research and the use of COI. The manual was produced by the Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation (ACCORD). The document is useful to those having little experience in writing declarations on behalf of asylum seekers. It includes all the relevant refugee laws for those who may need background on the 1951 Convention and other legal matters related to refugee protection. The Manual is available in other languages here.
Tools and Tips for Online COI Research aims to provide a high-level overview of some of the main tools and tips for online research that may be of use to COI researchers in this new and expanding sphere. The document was produced by the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA).
Asylos provides services free of charge to lawyers and caseworkers around the world assisting asylum seekers through their legal procedures. They produce case-based and broader COI research reports which lawyers and caseworkers can use to support a variety of protection-based claims in court. The reports can be used to inform arguments, or submit in whole or in part to a tribunal or appeals committee.
To request information for an asylum claim or to consult existing reports, please visit their website.
Ecoi.net, the COI system of the Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation (ACCORD), aims at contributing to fair and efficient refugee status determination procedures by securing easy and fast access to high-quality and up-to-date COI for all actors involved in asylum cases. Their database covers more than 160 sources on a regular basis and preferably uses reliable information sources or sources with a high reputation. Additionally, ACCORD offers research services (responses to case related queries, country reports, etc.) and conducts COI Training.
As of 1 January 2019, ecoi.net is endorsed by UNHCR as the main global platform for country of origin information, taking over the role of Refworld’s COI section.
The Electronic Immigration Network (EIN) provides information on UK immigration and refugee law. The HJT Country Database is a subscription service available on the EIN. The database contains over 200,000 reports on over 100 countries. The database includes sections on women’s rights issues and sexual orientation, and is fully searchable.
The site comprises two main areas:
the Public Site (free). This site gives access to country of origin experts, news and information on the latest legislation and most recent case law, event listings and a general resources list which links to related sites.
the Members’ Site (at a charge). This contains case law, legislation, updates on policy and practice, information on events, job information and bulletin boards that enable users to consult with and contact fellow practitioners. A forum allows access to immigration and asylum-related decisions from the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal up to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Their open directory of Country of Origin Experts is available here. Please note that we have no way of knowing if these listed experts are willing to do this work without charge.
Managed by the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) in cooperation with the national asylum authorities of EU+ states (EU Member States plus Norway and Switzerland), the EUAA COI Portal provides access to COI for use in Protection Status Determination procedures. It provides selected COI authored by EU+ national asylum authorities, EUAA and other EU institutions to assist asylum practitioners (COI researchers, caseworkers, decision and policy-makers, lawyers, legal aid providers and judges).
EUAA has established and coordinates COI Specialists Networks on the top countries of origin at EU+ level. The COI networks are composed of researchers specialised on a specific country. Currently, the following networks are active: Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Russia, Somalia, Syria, Ukraine, and West Africa.
Refworld is the protection information database managed by UNHCR for the purposes of making relevant information available to all persons involved in decision making on claims for international protection.
As of 1 January 2019, UNHCR stopped updating COI on English language Refworld, endorsing ecoi.net as the main global platform for country of origin information. Refworld in Russian and Spanish continue to be updated with COI.
ReliefWeb is a humanitarian information service provided by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). ReliefWeb’s editorial team monitors and collects information from more than 4,000 key sources, including humanitarian agencies at the international and local levels, governments, think-tanks and research institutions, and the media. Focusing mainly on humanitarian issues, the database contains over 700,000 documents and maps dating back to 1981.
Useful COI Resources
Besides the main COI databases, you can integrate your COI by researching sources in the following channels:
Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 7 million supporters, members and activists in more than 150 countries and territories who campaign to end grave abuses of human rights. Its vision is for every person to enjoy all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards. Amnesty International is independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion and is funded mainly by its membership and public donations.
Amnesty International has a database covering vast areas of human rights related topics from women and children’s rights, LGBTI rights, migrant and asylum law, torture and unlawful killings and business and technology rights. Their database contains regularly updated academic research, reports and country specific information on all regions of the world.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) is a non-profit, non-governmental human rights organisation investigating and reporting on abuses happening in all corners of the world. Its staff consists of human rights professionals including country experts, lawyers, journalists, and academics of diverse backgrounds and nationalities.
HRW is known for its accurate fact-finding, impartial reporting, effective use of media, and targeted advocacy, often in partnership with local human rights groups. Each year, Human Rights Watch publishes more than 100 reports and briefings on human rights conditions in some 90 countries, generating extensive coverage in local and international media.
Its publications include country reports, as well as an annual World Reports. Annual World Report summarises human rights conditions in more than 90 countries and territories worldwide in each year.
The International Crisis Group is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict. Their database provides regular and reliable updates and reports on countries in conflict situations. It is also available in French and in Arabic and some reports are available in other languages.
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is an international human rights NGO federating 192 organisations from 117 countries. FIDH is a non partisan, non sectarian, apolitical and not for profit organisation. Since 1922, FIDH has been defending all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
FIDH using a wide range of methods that have proven successful: urgent responses, both public and confidential; investigative missions, judicial observation, and legal defence; political dialogue, advocacy, legal action, public awareness campaigns.
Transparency International (TI) is a global movement working in over 100 countries to end the injustice of corruption. Through their advocacy, campaigning and research, they work to expose the systems and networks that enable corruption to thrive, demanding greater transparency and integrity in all areas of public life.
On its Research page, TI collects evidence to support advocacy goals, with an emphasis on political integrity and illicit money schemes, our global priorities. TI monitors progress made by governments and organisations in meeting anti-corruption commitments.
Their Anti-Corruption Knowledge Hub is an online space where you can find many of the studies, tools and knowledge which lie behind the TI’s work. It is the home of the Anti-Corruption Helpdesk, TI’s Expert Network, a series of topic guides and country-specific research.
The Asylum Research Centre (ARC) provides a COI research service including country reports to support individual asylum claims for use in representations to refugee decision making bodies. Its case-specific research service is primarily fee-paying, but ARC may be able to undertake pro bono research for NGOs with limited funds who provide free services to refugees.
ARC also provides country specific and thematic COI research for UNHCR, publishes commentaries on UK Home Office Country Policy and Information Notes (CPINS), and on European Asylum Support Office’s (EASO) COI reports. Additionally, ARC undertakes research consultancy, project management and training to the asylum, immigration and human rights sector.
The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) protects the fundamental human rights of women, children, LGBTQ individuals, and others who flee persecution.
CGRS’s Technical Assistance program is designed to provide attorneys working on individual asylum cases with immediate access to comprehensive, tailored resources relevant to their case. These including for example practice advisories, country conditions research reports, expert declarations, unpublished immigration judge and Board of Immigration Appeals decisions, and sample briefs. Free one-on-one phone consultations with CGRS staff attorneys are also available upon request and dependent on capacity.
CGRS maintains an expert witness database which is available free of charge to all advocates and experts dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and asylum seekers in the United States.
The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) is Canada’s largest independent administrative tribunal. It is responsible for making well-reasoned decisions on immigration and refugee matters, efficiently, fairly and in accordance with the law. The IRB decides, among other responsibilities, who needs refugee protection among the thousands of claimants who come to Canada annually.
On this page, you can access their COI reports.
The Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) empowers local voices to drive change in countries in conflict, crisis and transition, and promotes reliable information and public debate. Its Projects section is divided in region and countries, and for every country where IWPR works they provide impact reports and Global Voices stories, produced by journalists in areas of crisis and transition around the world with unique insight from local perspectives.
The World Factbook provides basic intelligence on the history, people, government, economy, energy, geography, environment, communications, transportation, military, terrorism, and transnational issues for 266 world entities.
The UK Border Agency’s COI Service aims at providing up-to-date, sourced, independently reviewed information on asylum seekers’ countries of origin. Sources include UN reports, human rights reports, various media bodies and information from specialist country officers, amongst others. COI material produced by UKBA is reviewed by the independent Advisory Group on Country Information (IAGCI).
We recommend to consult Asylum Research Consultancy for critiques of UK Border Agency’s COI reporting, which is deemed to be often out-of-date.
US Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for (US Department of State)
The US Department of State produces the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The reports cover internationally recognized individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements. To access the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices please click here.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is a United Nations agency that provides services and advice concerning migration to governments and migrants, including internally displaced persons, refugees, and migrant workers.
IOM conducts and supports data production and research designed to guide and inform migration policy and practice. Their publications can be found here.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) cover a wide range of security issues such as conflict prevention to fostering economic development, ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources & promoting the full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms. On this page they publish a collection of publications, news, documents and media and e-libraries.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) coordinates the global emergency response to save lives and protect people in humanitarian crises. In the Research section, thematic publications provide information on important humanitarian issues, like protection of civilians and humanitarian access. Additionally, they publish in-depth analytical policy papers on humanitarian data and trends.
With 189 member countries, the World Bank Group is a unique global partnership aiming at fighting poverty worldwide through sustainable solutions. World Bank Open Data provides free and open access to global development data that can be filtered by country or indicators. The Repository collects research and publications related to its focus areas.
Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a leading global news agency providing fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the events shaping our world. Drawing from a news gathering network across 151 countries, AFP is also a world leader in digital verification. With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world in six languages.
Originating from the Arab region, Al Jazeera is a global media network committed to delivering accurate and impartial information with professionalism and objectivity.
CNN is the world leader in online news and information and seeks to inform, engage and empower the world. CNN’s digital platforms deliver news from almost 4,000 journalists in every corner of the globe.
Deutsche Welle is Germany’s international broadcaster and one of the most successful and relevant international media outlets. They provide journalistic content in 32 languages.
The Financial Times is a British daily newspaper that focuses on business and economic current affairs.
Google News is a news aggregator service developed by Google. It presents a continuous flow of links to articles organized from thousands of publishers and magazines, and it is an excellent place to start searching for the latest stories.
Reuters is a global news agency with journalists working all over the world and guided by the Trust Principles, which state that Reuters must report the news with integrity, independence, and freedom from bias.
Reuters News has a fact-checking unit within its editorial department. The principal aim of this unit is to fact-check visual material and claims posted on social media.
The Guardian is a global news organisation delivering investigative journalism – giving a voice to the powerless and holding power to account. Its independent ownership structure means they are entirely free from political and commercial influence.
The New Humanitarian (formerly IRIN News) was founded by the United Nations in 1995, in the wake of the Rwandan genocide, out of the conviction that objective on-the-ground reporting of humanitarian crises could help mitigate or even prevent future disasters of that magnitude. Almost twenty years later, it became an independent non-profit news organisation, with a more critical eye over the multibillion-dollar emergency aid industry and draw attention to its failures at a time of unprecedented humanitarian need.
COI EXPERTS DATABASE BY COUNTRY
We are always looking to expand the resources on our platform. If you know about relevant resources, or you want to be listed as COI expert in our directory, please get in touch.
Last updated January 2023