Research under Pressure: Challenges to Researching Country of Origin Information for Asylum Claims

Thorough research is vital for a successful asylum claim. Such country of origin information (COI) is used to support specific elements in asylum seekers’ claims. As asylum seekers often lack documents that prove a risk of persecution on return, they rely on information from their countries of origin to illustrate their need for international protection. Specific pieces of information can support their testimonies of why and how they fled their countries; testimonies which are often disbelieved by national authorities in receiving countries. In short, COI is used to substantiate both the likelihood of persecution on return and the credibility of their individual stories.

We know surprisingly little about how NGOs and asylum lawyers conduct research for asylum claims. To close this gap, Asylos interviewed 20 asylum lawyers and NGO staff in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece and the UK  to understand the challenges of researching evidence, as well as the opportunities for improving the research process.

Access the findings in our report

Research under Pressure: Challenges to Researching Country of Origin Information for Asylum Claims

Published in February 2017.

Table of contents:

I. Introduction
II. Research under pressure
III. Tracking the research path
IV. Government-produced country of origin information– black boxes?
V. Country of origin information from court decisions
VI. Way forward – filling the gaps

The research project is coordinated by Joost Haagsma. Before joining Asylos he worked for the Dutch Council for Refugees as a Country of Origin Information researcher. He is currently studying for a postgraduate degree in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies at the University of Oxford. He holds a BA in social sciences from University College Utrecht and an MSc in Cultural Anthropology from Utrecht University. For more information about this project please contact

This project is supported by the BMU foundation for migration, population and environment.