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.
COI Training Handbook
- 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.
- July 2020
ARC Foundation is pleased to announce the publication of its:
- Observations on the Report of a Home Office fact-finding mission to Sri Lanka, Conducted between 28 September and 5 October 2019, 20 January; and
- Comments on the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) Country Information Report on Sri Lanka of 4 November 2019
Both reports support ARC Foundation’s aim to promote COI research standards and methodologies to ensure that decision makers have access to high quality Country of Origin information.
- July 2020
ARC is pleased to announce its new country report on Sri Lanka, which presents information from publicly accessible sources published between 1st January 2019 and 19th May 2020.
- July 2020
In collaboration with the Dutch Council for Refugees we have published: Commentary on the EASO Country of Origin Information Reports on Syria (December 2019 – May 2020).
This report details our observations on the various reports’ methodologies and comments on specific issues/profiles of importance for an assessment of international protection claims for Syrians, namely:
- Treatment of persons perceived to be opposing the government;
- Treatment of returnees from abroad;
- Forcible conscription by government forces, treatment of draft evaders, deserters and defectors;
- Availability and effectiveness of state protection in general and specifically for women and LGBTI individuals in Syrian government controlled areas.
- May 2020
We have published Vietnam: Returned victims of trafficking: Issues affecting the likelihood of re-trafficking, produced jointly by Asylos and Asylum Research Centre (ARC) Foundation and kindly funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.
Our report combines relevant and timely publicly available material with new information generated by interviewing six individuals with authoritative knowledge on the situation of returned victims of trafficking to Vietnam. We hope that the report will help fill the gap in the COI literature and thus to contribute to a more transparent and informed debate about the topic.
UK legal representatives using this report are advised to read it alongside this legal note by Legal Researcher David Neale of Garden Court Chambers. The note analyses our reports’ main findings and provides practical guidance to apply its findings to your case.
- May 2020
ARC Foundation is pleased to announce the publication of its 2019 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.