Academic journal article Refuge

The Use of COI in the Refugee Status Determination Process in the UK: Looking Back, Reaching Forward

Academic journal article Refuge

The Use of COI in the Refugee Status Determination Process in the UK: Looking Back, Reaching Forward

Article excerpt

Abstract

In the context of Refugee Status Determination (RSD), while the primary form of evidence is the testimony of the asylum applicant, objective evidence in the form of Country of Origin Information (COI) is recognized as an important--and potentially crucial--tool in decision making.

A research project of the Research and Information Unit (RIU) of the Immigration Advisory Service (IAS) examines the use of COI in the RSD process in the UK from initial decision to final appeal. The findings highlight the high level of inconsistency in the understanding of and the application of COI in RSD in the UK. It will demonstrate the need for this issue to be urgently addressed in the interest of just and effective decision making in the UK, and help inform discussions at the European and international levels.

Resume

Dans le contexte de la Determination du statut de refugie (DSR), bien que la forme principale de preuve reste le temoignage du demandeur d'asile, des preuves objectives sous la forme de Country of Origin Information (COI) (<< Information du pays d'origine >>) est reconnue comme etant un outil important--et potentiellement tres utile--pour le processus decisionnel.

Un projet de recherche du Research and Information Unit (RIU) (<< Unite de recherche et de l'information >>) de l'Immigration Advisory Service (IAS) (<< Service consultatif sur l'immigration >>) examine l'utilisation du COI dans le processus du DSR au Royaume Uni, a partir de la decision initiale jusqu'a l'appel final. Les conclusions soulignent le niveau eleve d'incoherence dans la comprehension du COI et de son emploi dans le DSR au Royaume Uni. Elles demontreront l'urgent besoin de s'attaquer a ce probleme afin qu'on puisse prendre des decisions justes et effectives au Royaume Uni, et aussi pour aider a guider les debats a l'echelle de l'Europe et au niveau international.

Introduction

The importance of the use of country information in Refugee Status Determination (RSD) processes is well established and generally accepted. However, a study of its use in the RSD process in the UK highlights the shortcomings of its usage in practice.

This paper will draw on the preliminary findings and recommendations reached by a project entitled The Use of Country of Origin Information in the Refugee Status Determination Process in the United Kingdom, which the Research and Information Unit (RIU) of the Immigration Advisory Service (IAS) (1) is in the process of finalizing. (2)

The focus of this paper will be on the way in which country information is used in the process of determining asylum claims made in the UK.

This article will start by briefly examining country of origin information (COI) and its use in the RSD process before considering the findings reached through three individual studies that form the essence of the project. The three studies examine the use of COI in first and second instance decision making by focusing on Home Office policy documents (known as Operational Guidance Notes, or OGNs), Reason for Refusal Letters (RFRLs), and Appeal Determinations. Preliminary findings highlight an unacceptable level of inconsistency in the understanding and application of COI in the RSD process, and demonstrate the need for this issue to be addressed in order to enhance the process of determining asylum claims made in the UK. The findings of each of the studies will conclude with recommendations to decision makers on the way in which the use of COI can be improved in the interest of just and effective decision making.

Establishing a "Well-Founded" Fear: The Use of COI

Due to the highly complex and individual nature of asylum claims it cannot be assumed that decision makers at any level hold in their minds the necessary range and depth of information relating to all of the many countries of origin of asylum seekers whose status it falls to them to determine. …

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