Frequently Asked Questions on ecoi.net
The European Country of Origin Information Network (ecoi.net) is a freely and publicly accessible COI portal. The portal enables users to search through the full text of more than 200.000 documents from a variety of sources. It went online in June 2001.
What is COI?
Country of Origin Information, or COI, in our context, means information on conditions in countries of origin of asylum seekers.
ecoi.net aims to contribute to fair and efficient refugee status determination procedures by securing easy and fast access to high-quality and up-to-date country of origin information (COI) for all actors involved in asylum cases.
ecoi.net gathers, structures and processes publicly available country of origin information with a focus on the needs of asylum lawyers, refugee counsels and persons deciding on claims for asylum and other forms of international protection.
In addition, ecoi.net records information on the asylum situation in "third countries" (i.e. transit and host countries for asylum seekers and refugees).
ecoi.net is committed to an impartial information policy and to the objective and neutral presentation of country of origin information.
ecoi.net is managed by ACCORD, the Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation. ACCORD is a department of the Austrian Red Cross, is based in Vienna, and provides COI research services to all actors involved in Austrian asylum procedures. ACCORD’s expertise in COI research contributes to the quality of ecoi.net.
The German Informationsverbund Asyl & Migration e.V. contributes to the content management on ecoi.net. Informationsverbund Asyl & Migration is based in Berlin and runs the website www.asyl.net.
www.staatendokumentation.at, the Austrian government's official COI database is run in close cooperation with ecoi.net.
ecoi.net is supported by the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) and UNHCR.
Access to all features of the COI portal ecoi.net is free of charge. ecoi.net is funded by the Austrian Red Cross, Informationsverbund Asyl & Migration, the Austrian Ministry of the Interior, the European Refugee Fund, Caritas Austria, and the Irish Legal Aid Board’s Refugee Documentation Centre.
Our team of content managers screens selected sources for relevant information (news articles, reports, position papers, etc.) on a daily basis and includes metadata (such as the source, the publication date or the country) when adding new entries to the system. The collected data are then automatically indexed for full text search. Hyperlinks to the original documents are provided. In case of publications by a source which has given us permission to republish their texts, the document is stored on ecoi.net, allowing for easy and sustainable access.
ACCORD’s COI researchers and Informationsverbund Asyl & Migration contribute to the quality assurance procedure: they are involved in the selection of relevant sources and in proof-reading, and they decide on which documents should be marked as “important documents” or sent out via the e-mail alert service.
The daily use of ecoi.net by researchers in the same office ensures a steady flow of feedback and fosters further improvement and innovative development.
ecoi.net focuses on the information needs of asylum lawyers and refugee counsels as well as of persons deciding on claims for asylum or other forms of international protection. Our content management staff selects information according to its relevance for decision making processes in the context of claims for international protection.
Comprehensive country of origin information does not only encompass the numerous dimensions of human rights, but also other aspects not usually covered by human rights reports. This includes information on the living conditions in a given country, on ethnic groups, political developments, the health system and the security situation.
Generally, ecoi.net seeks to include information on the following issues:
- human rights
- security situation (including criminality & corruption)
- country background (history, maps, country profiles)
- politics (elections, political parties, governments)
- legal information (national laws)
- humanitarian issues (health, social security, humanitarian crises)
- asylum- and protection-related issues (position papers, return,...)
ecoi.net does not cover events in all countries of the world to the same extent – there is a focus on countries from which most of the asylum seekers in Europe originate. See this list for details on the country priorities.
If a document or piece of information is not included on ecoi.net, this does not mean that it does not exist or is not useful. We recommend supplementing your research on ecoi.net with information from other databases and sources.
ecoi.net covers more than 140 sources regularly (as at April 2013). Depending on their publication cycle, some sources are covered daily (like BBC World News, IRIN or Amnesty International), others weekly (like UNHCR, Forum 18 or the International Crisis Group), and some others once a month (like CEDAW, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China or the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit).
Where appropriate, reports of added value published by new sources are included in the database, although we will not cover the source regularly. As a result, in addition to the 140 regularly covered sources, there are documents from more than 400 other sources in the database.
A list of all regularly covered sources with details on what kind of documents are considered relevant for each source is available here. Descriptions of each of these sources are available – see this question below.
ecoi.net is updated every working day. However, some sources are only checked every week or month, depending on their publication cycle.
ecoi.net covers 164 countries (as at April 2013). The extent of coverage depends on a country’s importance in the European asylum system: There is a focus on those countries from which most of the asylum seekers in Europe originate. See this list for details on the country priorities.
Reports, articles, news articles, position papers, expert opinions, appeals and press releases, as well as maps and laws. Additionally, ecoi.net contains the broadest collection of COI query responses & COI Seminar Reports available publicly on the web (with query responses from ACCORD, the Canadian IRB’s Research Directorate, the Irish Refugee Documentation Centre, the Swiss Refugee Council and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services).
For easy access to the different kinds of publications, our content management staff categorises new entries into the following types of documents:
- periodical reports (annual reports, monthly briefs, etc.)
- special reports (special publications, reports that are not published periodically)
- appeals and news releases (by human rights NGOs, for instance)
- media reports (news articles by international or local media)
- expert opinions and positions
- national laws
- (COI) query responses
Using these categories as filters when searching can help you finding specific information from annual reports, or query responses, for example.
ecoi.net does not cover events in all countries of the world to the same extent – there is a focus on countries with high rankings in European asylum statistics. Some sources will not be covered for countries with lower priority, while country-specific sources (like national human rights commissions, or national NGOs) will be included for top priority countries.
Countries are thus divided into 4 priority levels, from A (highest priority) to D (lowest priority).
Countries with priority “A” are our focus countries. They have the highest relevance in the context of European asylum procedures, and the highest availability of information.
Countries with priority “B” have at least one country specific source. They have a high relevance in European asylum procedures, and a high availability of information.
Countries with priority “C” are covered with all of the regularly checked sources, but do not have country specific sources.
Countries with priority “D” do not generate a high number of asylum claims in Europe. They are covered with a selection of documents from important sources (like AI’s annual reports, some UN sources and USDOS human rights reports).
Here’s a list of the country priorities (as at April 2013):
A Countries (= focus countries):
Afghanistan; China; Iran; Iraq; Nigeria; Russian Federation; Sudan; Syrian Arab Republic.
B Countries (= standard sources plus additional country-specific sources):
Albania; Armenia; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Congo, Democratic Republic; Ethiopia; Georgia; India; Liberia; Macedonia, former Yugoslav Republic; Moldova, Republic; Pakistan; Serbia; Somalia; Ukraine.
C Countries (= standard sources):
Algeria; Angola; Azerbaijan; Bangladesh; Belarus; Benin; Bolivia; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Colombia; Congo; Costa Rica; Côte d'Ivoire; Cuba; Egypt; El Salvador; Eritrea; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Haiti; Israel; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Kosovo; Kyrgyzstan; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Lebanon; Libyan Arab Jamahiriya; Malawi; Mali; Mauritania; Mexico; Mongolia; Morocco; Myanmar; Nepal; Niger; Occupied Palestinian Territory; Rwanda; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Sierra Leone; South Sudan; Sri Lanka; Tajikistan; Tanzania, United Republic; Timor-Leste; Togo; Tunisia; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Uganda; Uzbekistan; Venezuela; Vietnam; Western Sahara; Zimbabwe.
D Countries (= selected publications from important standard sources):
Argentina; Australia; Austria; Bahrain; Belgium; Bhutan; Botswana; Brazil; Bulgaria; Cambodia; Canada; Chile; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Djibouti; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; Equatorial Guinea; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Guatemala; Honduras; Hungary; Iceland; Indonesia; Ireland; Italy; Jamaica; Japan; Jordan; Korea, Democratic People's Republic; Korea, Republic; Kuwait; Latvia; Lesotho; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Madagascar; Malaysia; Maldives; Malta; Montenegro; Mozambique; Namibia; Netherlands; New Zealand; Nicaragua; Norway; Oman; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Philippines; Poland; Portugal; Qatar; Romania; Singapore; Slovakia; Slovenia; South Africa; Spain; Suriname; Swaziland; Sweden; Switzerland; Taiwan; Thailand; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom; United States of America; Uruguay; Yemen; Zambia.
"Standard source" in this context refers to sources that publish on a wide range of (or all) countries and are among the regularly covered sources of ecoi.net.
A list of all regularly covered sources with details on which countries are considered for each source is available here.
Most documents are available in English, some in German and some in French or other languages. The ecoi.net user interface is available in English and German. The search function allows for restriction to a specific language.
A bilingual thesaurus (English & German) is connected to the search engine: when you enter a search term that is included in the thesaurus in one language, the search engine will look for related terms & terms in the other language as well. See here for details.
ecoi.net does neither corroborate the information it contains, nor is the information currently available on ecoi.net conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or international protection. While ecoi.net preferably uses reliable information sources or sources with a high reputation, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information included.
If a document or piece of information is not included in ecoi.net this does not mean that it does not exist or is not useful. We recommend supplementing your research on ecoi.net with information from other databases and sources.
The information included in ecoi.net does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Austrian Red Cross / ACCORD. The Austrian Red Cross / ACCORD is neither responsible nor liable for third party content and views expressed by third parties in documents included in ecoi.net.
In order to report errors, suggest reports or sources to be included on ecoi.net, and for any other kind of feedback, please do not hesitate to send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org – or use the contact form.
As a registered user you benefit from additional features allowing you to adapt ecoi.net to your specific needs:
- weekly e-mail updates on the latest developments and newly added documents on ecoi.net, selected by COI researchers, for a set of countries of your choice (see below for details)
- research baskets let you select relevant documents for later review while browsing search results (see below for details).
Registering on ecoi.net is free of charge.
Registration only takes a minute and is free of charge. Fill out this registration form and a confirmation message will be sent to you automatically.
You can find detailed search help in the upper right corner of the search box or by following this link: http://www.ecoi.net/help
Our search engine uses a thesaurus specifically designed for the COI context. It automatically considers documents containing English and German terms related to your search terms. Furthermore, our moderated search will suggest terms that are related to your search terms (broader, narrower or otherwise related). This will increase the number of relevant results and help you to refine your search.
See here for details.
Please Note: you may switch off this feature by deselecting the inclusion of related terms under the advanced search options.
Weekly e-mail updates are part of the additional features available for registered users. They contain newly added documents, selected by country researchers to inform our users about latest developments and new reports. You can subscribe to the countries you are interested in.
Research baskets are part of the additional features available to registered users. When logged in, the research basket icon appears on the top right of each entry ( ). While browsing your search results, click on the icon to put documents you find relevant into a research basket. This allows for later review, or to continue your work on another day. The list of documents in your research baskets is easily accessible under “MY ECOI.NET”. They contain all necessary reference data in a standardised format (source, original title, date of publication, link to original document and date of access), which can be printed or copied into your report.
ecoi.net's "featured topics", introduced in June 2011, offer an overview on issues for selected countries, for instance to cover current events like elections. In the English language version, the featured topics are presented in the form of excerpts from documents, all coming from sources available on ecoi.net. In the German language version, these excerpts are summarized and translated.
Please note: Our previously available "topics & issues files" are no longer updated as from November 2008.
Source descriptions are available for those sources that are regularly covered by ecoi.net. They contain background information on an organisation’s mission & objective, funding and reporting methodology, as well as a brief navigation guide. To view the source description, click on the info-icon ( ) next to the name of a source.
If you would like to recommend further reading on a specific source, please let us know.
On each country page, you can find a selection of country-specific links – just click on “links” next to a country’s flag. See for example: http://www.ecoi.net/afghanistan/links
In addition to these country-specific links, ecoi.net provides a sorted list of annotated links to COI resources. This list contains resources helpful for additional country of origin research beyond the documents provided on ecoi.net. You can browse the list by clicking on “Sorted Research Resources” in the left-hand navigation bar – or by clicking on this link:
If you would like to suggest other resources and help us expand these lists, please do not hesitate to do so: contact us.
This document is available online at http://www.ecoi.net/faq