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Blended Learning Course


A blended learning course on COI comprises an online phase of 3 weeks (about 12 hours of learning) and is guided by a tutor and a one-day Face-to-Face Meeting that completes the course. 

The course is based on the European Asylum Support Office's (EASO) Training Curriculum. This is a training system dealing with legal and practical issues related to procedures of international protection. The main target group are case workers for state EU+ state authorities. Due to the fact that the Austrian Red Cross/ACCORD was involved in developing the COI module, ACCORD is allowed to use this module also in training for non-governmental target groups.

The COI Module comprises five chapters and offers various interactive exercies, tests and points to further readings.

ACCORD strives to offer at least one blended learning course per year. The course is open for all actors involved in procedures of international protection (like eligibility officers, judges, lawyers, legal counsels). No fees are asked for; however, participants are expected to join the Face-to-Face Meeting and to cover costs for travel and accommodation themselves.

 

Please find a brief overview on the each of the course's sub-modules below:


Sub-module 1: The Role of COI

 

What is COI? And what is good COI? What role does COI play in status determination procedures and do we have do be aware of certain limitations of COI? Definition, standards and scope and limits of COI.

The course starts by presenting the definition of Country of Origin Information and describes the precise role it plays. It then moves on discuss the standards which apply to high-quality COI research. Finally, you’ll learn about the scope and limitations of Country of Origin Information.

 

Once you’ve completed this module, you’ll know how to:

  • explain why COI is important in asylum procedures
  • name and apply the quality standards of COI research
  • recognise the scope of COI research and understand which areas fall outside of this

Sub-module 2: Questions

What kind of information do I need? Formulating legally relevant research questions is essential for getting valid results!

In this sub-module, we will turn to examine the issue of COI questions. An asylum claim gives rise to questions. COI can assist in answering these, thus it is the questions which lead us in the first place to begin the process of considering sources and undertaking research.

The questions which arise from a case also provide the practical, operational link between the decision-maker/lawyer and the dedicated COI researcher. The decision-maker formulates a question which has arisen from the case and then contacts the COI unit to request assistance in answering it. As we’ll see, well-formulated COI questions and good communication between the decision-maker and COI researcher are really important features of this interchange.

Let's have a look at the story of an asylum seeker from Nigeria:

The case of Amarachukwu

Amarachukwu is an asylum seeker from Nigeria. She is Christian and belongs to the Igbo ethnic group. She used to live in Kaduna State in Northern Nigeria, where the Igbo constitute a minority of the population. In the last years the relationship between the various ethnic and religious groups of the region has deteriorated, violent conflicts have become numerous between Christians and Muslims.

Amarachukwu claims that her husband and her brother were brutally killed and Amarachukwu herself was raped by Muslim extremists during a violent riot in their town. Amarachukwu remained alone with her 10-year-old son, Chino, as her parents had previously passed away. They feared for their lives, so they sold everything to a rich Igbo man from another town and used the money to come to Europe, where they asked for asylum.

Do you think that Amarachukwu and her son will be granted asylum?
What kind of information does a decision maker need in order to base the decision on relevant facts?
How can she or he decide whether Amarachukwu has a well-founded fear of persecution?
What kind of information does a legal adviser need to secure the best outcome for Amarachukwu?

 

Once you’ve completed these units, you will know how to:

  • identify different types or categories of questions
  • evaluate the relevance of a question
  • formulate COI questions

Sub-module 3: Sources

Where does the information I want to use come from? Source assessment and knowledge of sources.

As you work through this Sub-module you’ll discover that there are many different types of sources. You’ll also find that there are sources which are frequently consulted by experienced COI researchers and so are well worth taking note of. Lastly, you’ll learn source assessment skills which will help you to evaluate whether a source you consult is likely to be trustworthy or not.

 

Once you’ve completed this module, you will know how to:

  • identify different types of sources and be able to differentiate between original, primary and secondary sources.
  • consult the most frequently used sources in COI research.
  • conduct a source assessment and appreciate the need to always think critically about the sources you use.

Sub-module 4: Research

Does a good research strategy help me to conduct efficient and thorough research? Let’s give it a try!

In the previous modules, you’ve learned about the importance of legal relevance to COI research and about some of the most important sources. In this module, you’ll learn more about the practicalities of COI research and, once complete, will know how to conduct such research yourself.

Let's have a look at the story of an asylum seeker from Iran:

The case of Akbar Polady

Mr Akbar Polady comes from Eslamsha, a poor suburb of Tehran, Iran. He claims to have left his country because he was afraid of being killed by the regime. In Tehran he was an officer in the army’s air defence force. He claims to be a member of a political opposition party. He did not have a very important role in the party, and was mainly involved in distributing leaflets. However, the party leader and his wife have allegedly been killed by government agents.

For researching the details of a case you need two important things:

  1. A systematic research strategy that will help you to conduct effective and efficient research, question information, select the most relevant pieces of information and use the method of corroboration.
  2. Practical research skills that will enable you to find answers to your questions within search engines and databases by using search terms and search operators.

Once you’ve completed this module you’ll know:

  • where to start the research process and how to proceed
  • how to corroborate the information you’ve found during your research
  • how to conduct an effective search on search engines and online COI information systems like ecoi.net and Refworld
  • under what circumstances to use a library or an oral source
  • to identify sources and search terms on specific topics

Sub-module 5: Presentation

Finding information is not everything – presentation and documentation of research results also matter!

In this sub-module, you will be introduced to the last step of the research cycle: the presentation of the information you’ve found through your research.

When presenting research results, skills for formulating a query response or another COI product are needed and the referencing of sources becomes crucial. The style and language of a COI product, along with the use of referencing, disclaimers and internal documentation, have all got the same objective: to enable the readers of the COI product to get a clear picture of the situation in the country and to trace the information back to the original sources. Therefore, the guiding principle behind this sub-module is the quality standard of Transparency and Traceability.

This module is primarily addressed to professional COI researchers. However, the standard of transparency and retrievability is equally important to all participants of the asylum procedure

Once you’ve completed this module, you will know how to:

  • formulate a query response
  • reference sources and information in a transparent and traceable way
  • make corroboration visible

last update: Wednesday, 2 August 2017

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