Asylum Research Centre (ARC), formerly Asylum Research Consultancy, was set up by Liz Williams and Stephanie Huber in 2010. In 2016 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.
Iraq: Comments on EASO's Iraq Query Response
Ghana: State treatment of LGBTQI+ persons
Ethiopia: COI report on prison conditions
- July 2021
ARC is pleased to announce the publication of its COI report on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which focuses on the situation in the Two Kivus and Ituri provinces. The report covers:
- Major armed groups in the region
- Overview of the security situation, including conflict-related human rights violations
- Overview of the human rights situation, including conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence and conflict-related violence against children
- Overview of the Ebola outbreak and COVID-19, as well as its socio-economic effects
- Social-economic situation for the local population, as well as IDPs
This is an update from ARC’s 2019 DRC report.
- 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.
- March 2021
The report covers 6 research areas and includes interviews carried out with 9 different interlocuteurs ranging from academics, LGBTQI+ activists and NGO directors based in Ghana, the UK and the US. In sharing our findings Asylos and ARC Foundation hope to fill the gap in COI literature about the treatment of LGBTQI+ persons fearing the state and thus contribute to a more informed and complete picture of the situation.
- March 2021
ARC is pleased to inform you about the publication of its 3rd edition COI report on Sudan, specifically focusing on the situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile since former President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir was ousted in April 2019. This amended edition contains excerpts from an interview conducted in February 2021 with Bushra Rahama, Director of the Sudanese Human Rights and Development Centre (HUDOC Centre). The full report can be accessed here.
- February 2021
In the absence of any Home Office guidance on prison conditions, ARC Foundation is pleased to share with you its COI report on Prison Conditions in Ethiopia, which presents country information on issues of relevance as identified by UK and European Court of Human Rights case law, the UN Istanbul Protocol and the Nelson Mandela Rules. David Neale, Legal Researcher at Garden Court Chambers, kindly drafted legal notes to accompany our research.
This marks the third report published under this series, following the publication of our reports on Prison Conditions in Afghanistan (September 2019) and Prison Conditions in Nigeria (November 2019).
The reports are intended as a tool to assist legal practitioners and to help ensure that all relevant material is considered by decision-makers.
- December 2020
ARC Foundation is pleased to announce the publication of its Commentary on the Country Policy and Information Notes (CPINs) issued on Iraq: Baathists, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Blood Feuds.
This commentary identifies what ARC Foundation considers to be the main inconsistencies and omissions between the currently available Country of Origin Information (COI) and case law on Iraq and the conclusions reached in those three Country Policy and Information Notes (CPINs) issued by the UK Home Office.
- November 2020
On the occasion of our 10th anniversary, ARC Foundation is proud to announce a joint Anniversary Project with Asylos, which aims to improve asylum decision-making by raising the quality of country information. For this purpose we developed and teach a research training curriculum to legal representatives in the UK, who use these skills to better substantiate their clients’ asylum claims.
In our training series, we aim to target in particular those representatives in asylum dispersal areas outside of London with high numbers of asylum-seekers and low numbers of available support services.
The next basic training webinars Researching and Using Country of Origin Information will take place on 18th November, 2nd December 2020 and 13th January 2021 and will cover the following topics:
- What is country of origin information (COI), when can it be used and what are its limits
- How to frame research questions and develop a research strategy
- Identifying sources of COI that address these questions and applying practical research techniques
- Understanding quality criteria for researching, selecting and presenting COI
- Presenting COI to decision makers according to best practice in the UK
- How to request research from ARC Foundation and Asylos
Our training handbook Country of Origin Information (COI): Evidencing asylum claims in the UK was developed specifically for this training series and contains all relevant information that webinar participants need to know. It explains basic principles of country-of-origin information research, its use in the UK refugee status determination, quality criteria, research tips and guidance on avoiding common pitfalls.
The thematic webinar Child-Focused Country of Origin Information will be convened on 13th January and 3rd February 2021. In this workshop, we will discuss the legal instruments and principles that lay out the various ways in which protection claims from children need to be treated differently to those from adults in refugee status determination procedures. This will include the various considerations, and legal interpretations, that decision makers should apply when assessing children’s asylum claims, and what this means for researchers conducting child-focused COI. The workshop involves practical case studies to demonstrate how child specific issues can translate into appropriate research strategies.
A supplementary handbook for this training will be made available to participants and will be published here soon.
Please note that it is strongly recommended that you have attended the basic webinar before you attend the specialised child focused webinar.
To register for the webinars click here.
- October 2020
On 21st October ARC launched its three year project Comparative Analysis of U.S Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (2016-2019).
The research compared the State Department’s assessment of the situation in Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Sudan in 2016, the last year of President Obama’s administration, with the subsequent reports produced by President Trump’s administration covering events in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
Notable content changes identified were not consistent with the situation on the ground as documented by other sources and have the effect of downplaying the seriousness of the human rights situations in these countries. The principle changes related to women’s rights, civil and political rights, and issues relating to LGBTI persons.
- Press release including responses to our report;
- Eritrea chapter;
- Iran chapter;
- Iraq chapter;
- Pakistan chapter;
- Sudan chapter;
- Introduction & Methodology.
The report has 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 2020
ARC Foundation updated its Thematic COI Sources toolkit, which can be downloaded for free here.