Asylos joined the European Asylum Support Office in Malta on Tuesday 28th May, along with a number of country-of-origin information (COI) civil society organisations from around Europe, to discuss the state of COI research in EU member states as part of the COI Consultative Forum.

In attendance were the Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation (part of the Austrian Red Cross), the Asylum Research Centre foundation, the Dutch Council for Refugees, Swiss Council for Refugees, and Forum Refugiés.

The focus of the meeting was on the relationship, similarities, and differences between EASO/EU member states' production of COI for asylum decision makers and how civil society produces COI on behalf of lawyers and decision makers. Particular emphasis was placed on ameliorating existing knowledge and helping standardise the information available to protection claimants and decision makers around the EU.

A particular topic of the meeting was EASO's Country Guidance Reports, produced as part of their 2016 mandate to assist with the establishment of a Common European Asylum System. These reports are intended to provide guidance for decision makers in all EU member states regarding the general human rights situation in countries of origin such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Nigeria, to assist in standardising recognition rates. It remains to be seen whether these have been successful in that goal, as recognition rates in member states for claimants from these countries have not converged in recent years based on statistics to date.

Members of the Consultative Forum were also shown the MedCOI database, which is accessible only to member states' immigration authorities and contains reports on access to and availability of medications and treatment in countries of origin. These reports are produced in response to individual queries from decision makers in member states, accessible in a searchable format, and researched in consultation with contracted healthcare providers on the ground in relevant countries of origin.

We expect and look forward to EASO's new COI methodology, which is expected to be published later this year, and will be attending a methodology conference in Vienna held in conjunction with ACCORD in October.