Country of Origin Information

The refugee legal sector uses Country of Origin Information (COI) as 'objective evidence' to help determine asylum and human rights applications.  COI refers to information about political, legal, cultural, economic, social and human rights conditions.

Research needs within the determination process include:

  • Country of Origin Information
  • Documentary evidence (e.g. Party memberships cards)
  • Expert Reports
COI may take the form of:

  • Governmental and intergovernmental reports (e.g. US State Department Reports, UK Home Office COIS Reports and UNHCR reports)
  • NGO reports (e.g. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch)
  • Newspaper articles (including  local newspapers in the country of origin)
  • Academic papers
COI research is used by
  • Legal representatives and COI researchers
  • Immigration Judges
  • Decision makers (Government and intergovernmental agencies)
COI has a range of uses:
  • Establishing whether there is a well-founded fear of persecution
  • Establish credibility of the claimant
  • Substantiate/dispute the testimony of the claimant
  • Establish likelihood of persecution occuring
  • Establish risks to the claimant if returned
  • Establish the plausability of an Internal Flight Alternative

Gender and COI

Researchers in the field producing human rights reports often assume that the male experience is indicative of human rights conditions in countries of origin and neglect to report gendered experiences; women may be subjected to forms of persecution different to those inflicted on men.

Gender related persecution includes;
  • Trafficking
  • Domestic Violence
  • Female Genital mutilation
  • Honour related violence
  • Forced and Early Marriage
  • Rape and Sexual Violence
  • Restricted reproductive health and rights
Women often constitute an invisible group in human rights and COI reports, their unique experiences go undocumented which means that there is less information to draw on within the refugee determination process.  This lack of information can be used by decision makers to suggest that therefore a type of harm is not practised within a country of origin and decide that there is no risk to the claimant.

Researching women's individual asylum and human rights claims often requires more time than allowed within  legal aid funded limte limits, as the information is difficult to locate and may require specialist knowledge.