Centre de documentation et de recherche (CEDOCA)
Source description last updated: 24 April 2018

In brief: CEDOCA, the research unit of the Belgian Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS), gathers and analyses country of origin information.

Coverage on ecoi.net:
Reports and query responses.

Please note: On ecoi.net, there are two separate sources: CEDOCA and CGRS. While CEDOCA is part of the CGRS, we decided to use the source CEDOCA for COI publications and CGRS for country-specific policy documents.

Covered weekly on ecoi.net, for countries of priorities A-E.

“Cedoca provides country-based information in an objective and neutral manner. Cedoca structures information about countries and ensures that end-users can access it. […]
The legal service also requests Cedoca, often with very short deadlines, to provide detailed or up-to-date information for the purpose of defending asylum decisions for the Council of Alien Law Litigation (CALL).
Upon request and after written authorisation is granted, Cedoca can provide information to the Immigration Office (IO), the Guardianship service and the offices of the public prosecutor.
Cedoca maintains contact with national and international partners for tasks such as verifying identity documents, carrying out visa checks and comparing fingerprints.” (CGRS website: CEDOCA, Role and Mandate, undated)

Belgian government funds.
“The CGRS made use of the ERF [European Refugee Fund] funding for a 2 years project on the harmonization of the COI products and for the development of a website.” (European Commission: Ad-hoc query on searching for COI for asylum procedures, 22 September 2014, p. 2)

Scope of reporting:
Geographic focus: Countries generating asylum applications in Belgium.
Thematic focus: Human rights, humanitarian and security situation in countries of origin of asylum seekers.

“[T]he Documentation and Research Centre (CEDOCA) of the Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons (CGRS) is made up of researchers who are specialised per geographic region. […]
“The information gathering takes place via an extensive contact network both at home and abroad: via the press, academics, investigative reports and analyses by NGOs and international organisations, journals, books, the internet and social media. The COI-experts are also in touch with European sister organisations and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).” (CGRS website: CEDOCA, Organisation and Staff, undated)

“COI-experts bundle the information about countries into two types of products: […] The COI-experts have regular meetings with the geographical sections and organise country and theme-related briefings and training for protection officers. They regularly invite experts to provide lectures.
The library employees inventory documents and other imagery (photographic materials).” (CGRS website: CEDOCA, Products and Services, undated)

“There are currently 28 COI-experts working for CEDOCA. All COI-experts have a master degree and are specialized in 1 to 5 countries from a specific region.  [...] The  research  priorities  are  determined  through  regular  consultation with  the  case  worker  units  and  board  of  directors. The individual questions from protection officers are processed via database.  For  what  concerns  the  thematic  papers,  there  is  a  planning  tool  where  all requests  for  thematic  papers  are  registered  with  date of  request  and  deadlines.  [...] Updating of COI is a continuous process. […] General security situations in a limited number of countries (+/-12) are updated every 6 months. Other information is updated when the need arises.” (European Commission: Ad-hoc query on searching for COI for asylum procedures, 22 September 2014, p. 2)

A CEDOCA COI product “provides information for the processing of individual asylum applications. The document does not contain policy guidelines or opinions and does not pass judgment on the merits of the asylum application. It follows the Common EU Guidelines for processing country of origin information (April 2008) and is written in accordance with the statutory legal provisions.” (CEDOCA: COI Focus Pakistan Security Situation, Disclaimer, 16 June 2015, p. 1)

The product is “based on a wide range of public information selected with care and with a permanent concern for crosschecking sources. Even though the document tries to cover all the relevant aspects of the subject, the text is not necessarily exhaustive.  If certain events, people or organisations are not mentioned, this does not mean that they did not exist.
All the sources used are briefly mentioned in a footnote and described in detail in a bibliography at the end of the document. Sources which have been consulted but which were not used are listed as consulted sources. In exceptional cases, sources are not mentioned by name.” (CEDOCA: COI Focus Pakistan Security Situation, Disclaimer, 16 June 2015, p. 1)

A "[p]olicy paper provides the main points regarding the policy rules that are applied by the Commissioner General when assessing requests for asylum from a specific country. A country-specific policy paper begins with a brief, simplified summary of the complex situation in a country of origin. The situation outline only covers the asylum-related aspects of the situation in that country. A non-exhaustive overview is then provided of the at-risk groups in the country of origin. The focus lies on the at-risk profiles that the CGRS encounters during its day-to-day work. In addition, it only covers the policy themes that are relevant for the country of origin or any special policy rules that apply to that particular country. Consequently, a country-specific policy paper does not contain a complete overview of all of the possible issues that may be faced by the citizens of the relevant country of origin." (CGRS: Policy Paper Afghanistan, 25 August 2017, p. 1)
As noted above, the separate source CGRS is used on ecoi.net for such policy papers.

Also, CEDOCA was involved in the development of “[…] EU common guidelines on (Joint) Fact Finding Missions [that] serve as a practical tool to assist EU member states in organizing Fact Finding Missions to gather Country of Origin Information. (ecoi.net-blog: Common EU Guidelines on (Joint) Fact Finding Missions published, 13 December 2010)

Language(s) of publications:
Dutch, English and French.

Further reading / links:
CEDOCA: Guide de style pour la rédaction des produits COI, 1 June 2015
ECS working group on Fact Finding Mission guidelines: EU common guidelines on (joint) Fact Finding Missions: a practical tool to assist me mber states in organizing  (joint) Fact Finding Missions, November 2010
European Union: Common EU Guidelines for the processing of Country of Origin Information (COI), April 2008
All links accessed 24 April 2018.
All documents available on ecoi.net from this source