Asylum Research Centre (ARC), formerly Asylum Research Consultancy, was set up by Liz Williams and Stephanie Huber in 2010. Between October 2016 and March 2022 ARC Foundation was incorporated as a charitable incorporated organisation. Our aim is to raise standards in the production and use of COI and the refugee status determination process as a whole, to improve the realisation of asylum seekers’ and refugees’ rights and entitlements and to ensure that those in need of protection are recognised as such.
Join the COI FORUM A free online tool for COI researchers and users of COI working in refugee status determination.
Commentary on CPIN: Sri Lanka - Religious Minorities
Principles for Disability Research
Ethiopia: The situation in Tigray
- January 2022
Disability-focused Country of Origin Information webinar
This webinar will focus on disability in the context of international protection claims for persons with disabilities and disability-focused country of origin information. We will briefly present our country report, Nigeria: Children and Young people with disabilities, as well as findings from a rapid review of COI sources. We will introduce models and understandings of disability, and our Principles for Conducting COI research on Disability and present a review of the legal context for international protection claims for persons with disabilities, and what this means for conducting disability-focused COI.
When: Thursday 10th February 2022, 5pm – 6.30pm (UK time)
To register please click here.
- January 2022
New COI training opportunities
ARC Foundation together with Asylos will deliver the forthcoming Country of Origin Information (COI) webinars:Friday, 4th February 09:30am – 1:00pm (GMT) – DISABILITY-SPECIFIC COI TRAINING Register hereFriday, 18th February 09:15am – 1:00pm (GMT) BASIC COI TRAINING Register hereMonday, 21st February 02:00pm – 5:30pm (GMT) DISABILITY-SPECIFIC COI TRAINING Register hereFriday, 4th March 09:15am – 1:00pm (GMT): BASIC COI TRAINING Register hereFriday, 4th March 2:00pm – 5:30pm (GMT): DISABILITY-SPECIFIC COI TRAINING Register hereMore information on these training sessions can be found here.
- January 2022
ARC Foundation and the Dutch Council on Refugees (VluchtelingenWerk Nederland) are pleased to announce its Commentary on EASO COI Queries on the DRC, Iran and Iraq: LGBT persons.
The thematic review focused on three query responses produced by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO)/European Union Asylum Agency (EUAA) on the situation of LGBT persons in the DRC, Iran and Iraq.
The Commentary includes general observations on the methodology and specific recommendation on how these query responses focusing on LGBT persons may be improved, taking into consideration EASO’s recently published ‘Research Guide on the situation of LGBTIQ persons’. It also makes country-specific comments and proposes additional relevant COI, which may be of assistance to legal practitioners and decision-makers in respect of the treatment of LGBTQI+ persons in those three countries.
- January 2022
The Afghanistan COI Repository is updated each Thursday and contains relevant and up-to-date research on Afghanistan.
The repository is made in partnership with Asylos and Clifford Chance and with support from Refugee Action and it is made possible by the diligent researchers volunteering their time to update and edit the repository on a weekly basis.
Since the launch of the Afghanistan COI Repository in September 2021, there have been:
- 3,990 unique page views on the Afghanistan project page
- 1,637 total downloads of the Afghan COI Repository
- 50 – 200 unique users per week downloading the repository
- 14 volunteer researchers giving over 200 hours of their time
- 2 partnerships that developed with legal organisations in the US
We’re grateful to the Paul Hamlyn Foundation for funding the continuation of the project in 2022.
“It’s bang up to date, with a new edition every Thursday for the time being” – Free Movement’s post
“I have just become aware of your wonderful resource and intend to share it widely along with my own research efforts…So grateful for what you and so many others are doing!!” – Cyndy Levy, VECINA and VIISTA – Villanova
- December 2021
ARC Foundation has just published two commentaries, which identify main inconsistencies and omissions between the currently available COI on China (Muslims, incl. Uyghurs in Xinjiang) and Sri Lanka (Religious Minorities) and the conclusions reached in the respective Country Policy and Information Notes (CPINs) issued by the UK Home Office:
- A Commentary on the Country Policy and Information Note (CPIN) issued on China: Muslims (including Uyghurs in Xingjiang)
- A Commentary on the Country Policy and Information Note (CPIN) issued on Sri Lanka (Religious Minorities)
These commentaries are intended as a guide for legal representatives and decision-makers in respect of observed inconsistencies, gaps and omissions, as well as providing additional relevant COI on the issues identified.
- December 2021
Through consultations with legal representatives in the UK, ARC Foundation and Asylos have become aware of the absence of relevant Country of Origin Information (COI) about persons with disabilities and the simultaneous prevalence of widespread misconceptions about disability issues in the international protection legal sector. This contributes to the rejection of meritorious claims of persons with disabilities.
Throughout the past year, we have embarked on a joint project to address information gaps about persons with disabilities who are seeking international protection.
We are pleased to share eight research principles in our newest publication. It is our hope that they will encourage COI researchers, legal representatives and decision-makers alike to take a more holistic and informed approach to international protection claims involving persons with disabilities, which will in turn lead to an improvement in the availability of good quality COI research and well-founded decisions. The Principles for Disability Research can be found here.
- November 2021
In collaboration with Dr Christel Querton from the University of the West of England (UWE), ARC Foundation has published its latest commentary on the UK Home Office’s Country Policy and Information Notes (CPINs).
This commentary focuses on the use of quantitative assessments through the increased reliance on statistics and prevalence rates, or in the absence of COI, the reliance on general assessments that question the severity or extensiveness of human rights violations.
The commentary concludes with a number of recommendations, amongst others that “The assessment of protection needs should not be conducted predominantly through the use of quantitative data as it may obscure the impact of harm on individual applicants and the risks that arise from laws that systemically discriminate against particular sections of society”
The commentary can be accessed here.
- November 2021
ARC is pleased to announce the publication of its COI report on Ethiopia, which focuses on the situation in Tigray. The report covers:
- Background and parties to the conflict
- Security Situation in Tigray
- Overview of the human rights situation in Tigray, including extrajudicial killings, torture and ill-treatment, forced recruitment, sexual and gender-based violence, restrictions on freedom of expression and violence against journalists and media workers, destruction of civilian infrastructure etc.
- Humanitarian situation for the local population in Tigray, as well as IDPs fleeing Tigray
- September 2021
ARC Foundation updated the finding of its project Comparative Analysis of U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (2016-2020).
The research compared the U.S. Department of State’s reports of the human rights situation in Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Sudan in 2016, the last year of President Obama’s administration, which the subsequent reports produced by President Trump’s administration, covering events in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
As the findings from our previous review showed (published in October 2020), covering events in 2017, 2018 and 2019, notable content changes identified then persisted also in 2020 and continued to be inconsistent with the situation on the ground as documented by other sources. This has the effect of downplaying the seriousness of the human rights situation in these countries. The principle changes continued to relate to women’s rights, civil and political rights, and issues relating to LGBTI persons.
The Summary of ARC’s review, together with the five country chapters and the full Introduction and Methodology were first published as separate reports in October 2020 covering findings from reviewing the 2017, 2018 and 2019 U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices reports. An updated version of ARC’s reports incorporating findings from the review of the 2020 U.S. Department of State’s reports have now been published:
As common themes were observed across the years and across the reports in relation to how they addressed specific human rights violations and profiles of people, this year ARC also compiled a Thematic Review focusing on torture, women including their reproductive rights, children, persons with disabilities, LGBTI persons, and statelessness:
The reports covering ARC’s original findings covering events in 2017, 2018 and 2019, have been covered by The Guardian, Trump administration alters and downplays human rights abuses in reports, 21 October 2020 and Pink News, The Trump administration is covering up homophobic torture and persecution in ‘gold standard’ international human rights reports, 22 October 2020. Open Democracy published ARC Director Liz Williams’ piece Trump administration excludes key human rights issues from its reports.
- September 2021
ARC Foundation updated its Thematic COI Sources toolkit, which can be downloaded for free here.
- May 2021
ARC Foundation is pleased to announce the publication of its 2020 Annual Report outlining the organisation’s main streams of work aiming to drive up standards in the quality and use of Country of Origin Information (COI) in the refugee status determination process.