The Common EU Guidelines for processing Country of Origin Information (COI), April 2008
“Pursuant to the Action Plan of the European Commission, the COI Guidelines aim at “improving the quality of decision making in the common European asylum system” while contributing to the harmonization of the asylum processes within the EU.
In line with the concerned provisions of the Action Plan, the goal of these guidelines is to provide basic common criteria on how to process transparent, objective, impartial, and balanced factual COI, with the aim of facilitating EU-wide exchange and use of such information. The guidelines are to be understood by new as well as experienced COI researchers.
The guidelines have been established taking into consideration that the use of COI is part of the requirements for an “appropriate examination” of asylum applications according to art. 8. 2 (b) of the Council Directive 2005/85/EC of 1 December 2005 on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing refugee status. Since an “appropriate examination” also implies, according to 8. 2 (a) of this Directive that asylum “applications are examined and decisions taken individually, objectively and impartially”, criteria leading to the use of objective and impartial COI have been especially taken into account.
All EU Member States are encouraged to apply these guidelines, whether or not the production of COI is done in-house or is outsourced (i.e. COI commissioned from external organisations). Nevertheless, COI-producers may have to take into account limitations stemming from national legislation, specific rules on classification, citation and copyright.
The need to meet the criteria of objectivity and impartiality should also be understood as implying that, whenever possible, the processing and the production of COI should be kept independent from the decision making process and policy making.” (p.2-3)
“The Common EU Guidelines for the processing of COI have been developed by a project group, formed by representatives of COI desks from immigration services of the following countries:
- Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (BAMF) – Germany
- Bundesamt für Migration (BFM) – Switzerland
- Danish Immigration Service (DIS) – Denmark
- Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) – The Netherlands
- Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS) – Belgium
- Office Français de protection des refugies et apatrides (OPFRA) – France
- Office for Repatriation and Aliens (ORA) – Poland
- Home Office – United Kingdom
This project was funded by the European Commission (ARGO project JLS/2005/ARGO/GC/03).” (p.i)
“The project group prepared the guidelines on the basis of various forms of input from all EU Member States, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, UNHCR, ACCORD, RDC Ireland and the European Commission, including:
- answers to a questionnaire developed by the project group;
- interviews with selected COI desks;
- existing guidelines from ACCORD, the Canadian IRB and UNHCR; and
- comments from the reference group.
- comments from EU member states in the testing period (May-November 2007)
The draft guidelines were presented at the EURASIL plenary meeting of March 27 2007, and were widely accepted. The final draft (d.d. April 04 2007) was sent out for testing to all EU member states, Norway, Switzerland, ACCORD, UNHCR, and RDC Ireland. In addition, a compendium of useful websites and other reference materials covering the majority of asylum generating countries was provided as a helpful tool for COI researchers. The period of testing lasted from May-November 2007.
By November 2007, the project group had received comments from ACCORD, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Finland, Lithuania and The Netherlands. Five partners of the original project group have finalized the guidelines.” (p.2-3)