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.
Ethiopia: The situation in Tigray
Nigeria: Children and Young People with Disabilities
- 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
- October 2021
ARC Foundation is pleased to announce two additional training webinars following its successful series earlier this year.
The basic training webinar Researching and Using Country of Origin Information will take place on Friday 26th November 2021 from 9:15am to 1:00pm 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
- Background and information on how to use the Afghanistan COI Repository
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 Friday 3rd December 2021 from 9:15am to 1:00pm. 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 after the webinar.
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 2021
An updated version of the Afghanistan COI Repository is out now! Until further notice, the repository will be updated each Thursday and will contain 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.
To download the latest edition of the report, please click here.
- October 2021
ARC Foundation is pleased to announce the publication of the report Nigeria: Children and Young People with Disabilities, produced jointly with Asylos and kindly funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. The report is part of a series of strategic research reports that address critical gaps in country of origin information.
This report combines relevant and timely publicly available material with new information generated through interviews or written correspondence with eight individuals with authoritative knowledge on the topic. Together these sources paint a troubling picture of the situation for children and young people with disabilities in Nigeria, despite the recent adoption of legislation by the State to comply with their obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Sources highlight the multiple forms and layers of discrimination, by state actors and within communities and families, and the prevailing lack of protection or access to redress, that affect children and young people with disabilities in Nigeria, severely impairing their lives and in many cases putting them at risk of exploitation and harm.
We hope that the report will help fill the gap in the COI literature and thus contribute to a more transparent and informed debate about the topic. You can access the report here.
- 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.
- 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.