UK HOME OFFICE
Last update of this source description: 1 April 2011.
The UK Border Agency, part of the UK Home Office, is responsible for securing the UK border and controlling migration in the UK. It manages border control, enforcing immigration and customs regulations. It also considers applications for permission to enter or stay in the UK, and for citizenship and asylum.
The Country of Origin Information Service, part of the UK Border Agency,produces information about conditions in asylum seekers' countries of origin for use by caseworkers and others involved in processing asylum applications. The reports concentrate on issues most commonly raised in asylum and human rights claims made in the United Kingdom.
“The COI Service is a team of specialist researchers who research and collate information on countries giving rise to asylum claims in the UK. Their accurate, balanced, relevant and up-to-date information on asylum seekers' countries of origin is used by our officials at all stages of the asylum determination process." (COI Service Website, http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/policyandlaw/guidance/coi/, accessed on 1 April 2011)
Scope of reporting:
Geographic focus: Worldwide, special focus on the 20 countries which generate the most asylum applications in the UK.
Thematic focus: Human rights issues.
"COI Service products focus on human rights issues and matters frequently raised in asylum and human rights claims. They are compiled from material produced by a wide range of external information sources such as the United Nations agencies, human rights organisations, government and non-governmental organisations, and news media. All COI Service products are based on published or unclassified source material. They do not contain any UK Border Agency opinion or policy.” (COI Service Website, http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/policyandlaw/guidance/coi/, accessed on 1 April 2011)
The COI Service produces four different types of reports which differ in terms of methodology, presentation and publication cycle:
"COI reports are compilations of extracts from a wide range of external sources. Each report focuses on the main asylum and human rights issues in a particular country, and provides background information on geography, economy and history. COI reports are produced on the 20 countries generating the most asylum applications in the UK, and are updated regularly.
COI bulletins and updates are occasionally issued when it is necessary to provide information at short notice in response to emerging events, or in relation to a country for which a COI Report is not produced.
COI fact-finding mission reports are produced following fact-finding missions to countries of origin to obtain information not available from existing sources.
Additionally, UK Border Agency officials have access to an information request service
for specific enquiries. Responses to these requests are not routinely published but can be made available on request." (COI Service Website, http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/policyandlaw/guidance/coi/, accessed on 1 April 2011)
COI Reports: Produced regularly on the 20 countries which generate the most asylum applications in the UK (based on the previous year’s statistics); until recently the reports were published twice a year (in April and October), since October 2006 most COI reports have been updated more frequently.
COI Bulletins & responses to information requests: On an ad hoc basis.
Navigation of website:
The UKBA also produces Operational Guidance Notes (OGN). These documents aim to provide clear guidance for UKBA officials on whether the main types of claim are likely to justify the grant of asylum, humanitarian protection or discretionary leave. Country policy bulletins are also occasionally issued on an ad hoc basis and aim to provide clear guidance on how to deal with particular country-specific issues arising in asylum and human rights applications. The OGNs are accessible on the UKBA website at: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/policyandlaw/guidance/csap/
In reaction to the above mentioned discourse about the Home Office’s Country Reports the Advisory Panel on Country Information (APCI), an independent body under the Nationality Asylum and Immigration Act 2002 was established. The function of the Advisory Panel is to review and provide advice about the country of origin information material produced by the Home Office, to help ensure that it is as accurate, balanced, impartial, up to date and user-friendly as possible. The members of the Advisory Panel are individuals and organisations operating in the country information and/or the refugee fields (APCI Website, http://www.apci.org.uk/, accessed on 29 August 2008).
In 2008, the APCI was disbanded and its functions subsumed under the Office of the Chief Inspector of the UKBA, who in March 2009 established the Independent Advisory Group on Country Information (IAGCI) to assist him with monitoring the UKBA Country of Origin Information Service (COIS) reports.