COI News

Important news from EASO and the world of COI

Our approach to COI news

The News section aims to inform users about recent COI publications or upcoming workshops/conferences. EASO selects information provided in the News section according to its relevance to the COI and asylum fields. EASO welcomes suggestions to insert a particular news (event, publication).

26 August 2020

EASO publishes a COI report: Afghanistan, State Structure and Security Forces

Today, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) published a Country of Origin Information (COI) report titled 'Afghanistan, State Structure and Security Forces'.

The focus of this report is on state structure, security institutions and state judiciary in Afghanistan. It is divided into three parts. The first part focuses on presenting an overview of the state structure in Afghanistan, including governance, corruption, and the latest developments on the 2019 elections. The second part focuses on the state security institutions, their mandate and structure, integrity, and the main reported cases of violations perpetrated by these security forces. The third part of the report provides a general overview of the state judiciary, focusing on its capacity, integrity, effectiveness in prosecution, as well as prison conditions.

The Afghan government continues to be involved in multiple and overlapping non-international armed conflicts between government forces and Anti-Government Elements (AGEs), mainly against the Taliban and Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), among others. Governance in Afghanistan continues to be weak, mainly due to corruption within the government, insecurity, unemployment, violation of human rights, lack of rule of law, illiteracy and lack of capacity into administrative reforms.

The report was drafted by EASO COI Sector and produced in line with the EASO COI Report Methodology; it was reviewed by experts from The Netherlands, Office for Country Information and Language Analysis, Ministry of Justice.

With 2.7 million refugees as of the end of 2019, Afghanistan was the third largest country of origin of refugees in the world. Afghan continued to be the second most common citizenship of asylum applicants in the EU+ as of June 2020.

The 'Afghanistan, State Structure and Security Forces' report is part of a series of EASO COI reports on Afghanistan due to be published in 2020.

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21 August 2020

EASO publishes a COI report: Venezuela Country Focus

On 20 August 2020, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) published a Country of Origin Information (COI) report titled 'Venezuela Country Focus'.

This COI report is a joint initiative of EASO and the Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Consultations on Migration, Asylum and Refugees (IGC)[1].

The report addresses the main topics and questions raised by international protection authorities, decision-makers, and COI researchers. It covers recent developments in the economy, political and security situation, and the humanitarian situation. The report also discusses the most recurring targeted profiles by the government and its security forces. It describes activities of armed pro-government civilian groups (colectivos), including targeted profiles, modus operandi, relation with the government and security forces, and state response for victims of colectivos. Final chapters describe identity and courts documents, entry and exit procedures, and the situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans (LGBT) persons.

Some findings of the report include:

  • The mass emigration of Venezuelans constitutes one of the largest in recent Latin American history. While the number of Syrians who left their country reached 6.5 million in seven years (2011-2017), the number of Venezuelans who left their country reached 4 million in four years (2015-June 2019).
  • Venezuela has one of the highest homicide rates in Latin America, despite a decrease in 2019. Armed groups, both domestic and foreign, operate in Venezuela, with distinct objectives, modus operandi, political loyalties and relations with the state.
  • Colectivos exert political and social control in neighbourhoods where they operate, and have become instrumental in the use of coercive control over protests through the use of violence and often in coordination with security forces.
  • The nature of protests changed in the first months of 2019, with more targeted demonstrations emerging to protest the deterioration of living standards and the humanitarian situation. Security forces allegedly subjected persons who participated in protests to 'serious abuse and ill-treatment' while in detention in order to punish them, force confessions, or incriminating others.
  • Authorities allegedly engaged in forced disappearances, including for political reasons, to impede the defence of the person while the detention is carried out. Security forces have also allegedly been involved in extrajudicial executions.
  • Venezuela has established a complex system to eavesdrop, harass, and digitally and physically monitor the population, including through the CLAP food boxes and the Homeland Card (Carnet de la Patria). Social control has intensified during the pandemic.
  • A systematic and widespread policy of repression in Venezuela for those who are critical of the government was identified by sources. The government and security forces target journalists to silence on what is occurring in the country. Human rights advocates and members of civil society organisations are prosecuted under both the criminal justice system and the military penal jurisdiction, as an 'exemplary punishment' to block the work of other human rights organisations. The 'Law Against Hate' has been one of the legal instruments used for these prosecutions.

The report was drafted by an independent COI expert, James Restrepo, in accordance with the EASO COI Report Methodology. The report draws on information from 14 oral sources interviewed for this report, apart from a large variety of publicly available sources. It was reviewed by experts from: Canada - Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) of Canada, and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC); Norway -Norwegian Country of Origin Information Centre, Landinfo; Switzerland - State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), Division Analysis (Länderanalyse SEM), and United States - Refugee Asylum and International Operations (RAIO), US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Venezuelan applications for international protection in the EU+ increased considerably since early 2019 and peaked between November 2019 and February 2020. In 2019, Venezuelans launched twice as many applications, over 45 000, as in 2018. In the first quarter of 2020, the number remained similar to the last quarter of 2019 (over 13 000) but already in late March applications began to decrease in the context of restrictive measures to halt the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Spain has remained the main destination country: in the period January 2019 – March 2020 about nine in 10 applications in the EU+ were lodged in Spain.

The report can be downloaded from the EASO COI portal.

 

[1] IGC participating states are: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States.

14 August 2020

EASO publishes a COI report: Afghanistan, Key socio-economic indicators. Focus on Kabul City, Mazar-e Sharif and Herat City

On 14 August 2020, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) published a Country of Origin Information (COI) report titled 'Afghanistan: Key socio-economic indicators. Focus on Kabul City, Mazar-e Sharif and Herat City'

During 2016, EASO initiated a pilot project to facilitate Member States' cooperation on the development of country guidance notes on Afghanistan. In the context of this project, the need for updated information was identified on topics of relevance for the consideration of Internal Protection Alternative (IPA) in Afghanistan, with a focus on the cities of Kabul, Herat and Mazar-e Sharif. This choice of focus was also kept for the 2020 update of Country Guidance on Afghanistan.

After providing some background information on these three cities, the 2020 EASO COI report Afghanistan, Key socio-economic indicators looks into several socio-economic indicators, including poverty, food security, housing, access to employment, education and healthcare, freedom of movement. The information is provided for the country, and where available for the three cities separately. Additional attention is paid to specific vulnerable groups such as IDPs, returnees, women and children.

The report was drafted by EASO COI Sector in accordance with the EASO COI Report Methodology. It was reviewed by experts from Denmark, Danish Immigration Service and by ACCORD, the Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation.

At the end of 2019, with 2.7 million refugees, Afghanistan was the third largest country of origin of refugees in the world. Afghan continued to be the second most common citizenship of asylum applicants in the EU+ as of June 2020.

This report is part of a series of EASO COI reports on Afghanistan due to be published in 2020.

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10 August 2020

EASO publishes a COI report: Afghanistan, Anti-Government Elements (AGEs)

On 10 August 2020, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) published a Country of Origin Information (COI) report titled 'Afghanistan, Anti-Government Elements (AGEs)'

The report provides an overview of the main Anti-Government Elements (AGEs) in Afghanistan, primarily the Taliban and Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), with a focus on describing their modus operandi, structure and activities with respect to targeted killings and attacks on particular profiles.

The Taliban is an AGE that has been active in Afghanistan for decades. The Taliban leadership ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001, when it was removed from power by US and international forces. The group has continued to conduct an insurgency following its removal. Since 2001, the Taliban have preserved some key principles including a strict interpretation of sharia law in areas under their control. On 29 February 2020, in Doha, the US and the Taliban signed an 'Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan', after 18 years of war. Despite the agreement with the US, the Taliban have continued their attacks against the Afghan government forces in particular.

Other AGEs operating in Afghanistan and described in this report include Al Qaeda, Haqqani Network and foreign armed groups.

The report was drafted by EASO COI Sector in accordance with the EASO COI Report Methodology. It was reviewed by experts from Denmark, Danish Immigration Service, The Netherlands, Office for Country Information and Language Analysis, Ministry of Justice and by ACCORD, the Austrian Centre for Country of Origin and Asylum Research and Documentation.

With 2.7 million refugees as of the end of 2019, Afghanistan was the third largest country of origin of refugees in the world. Afghan continued to be the second most common citizenship of asylum applicants in the EU+ as of May 2020. The EU+ recognition rate for decisions issued to Afghan applicants dropped to 36 % in May, a considerable decrease from the 46 % in the first quarter of 2020 and lower than in Q4 2019 (50 %).

This report is part of a series of EASO COI reports on Afghanistan due to be published in 2020, which provide relevant information regarding topics such as customary law and informal dispute resolution, state actors, security situation and armed conflict developments, key-socio economic indicators.


21 July 2020

EASO publishes a COI report: Afghanistan, Criminal law, customary justice and informal dispute resolution

On 21 July 2020, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) published a Country of Origin Information (COI) report titled ‘Afghanistan: Criminal law, customary justice and informal dispute resolution’

The newly released report Afghanistan: Criminal law, customary justice and informal dispute resolution provides an overview of the pluralistic legal system of codified and uncodified, formal and informal (customary) norms which govern Afghan society. The report also focuses on the topic of land dispute as one of the main sources of conflict in Afghanistan, providing information on formal and informal mechanism of dispute resolution, including Taliban’s involvement in resolving land disputes. Finally, it describes the practices of blood feuds and revenge killing, including customary blood feud resolution and compensation, and prosecution by the state.

In Afghanistan, justice is administered on the basis of a mixture of overlapping and sometimes contradictory legal codes, which include the 2004 Constitution, international law, statutory law, sharia law, and customary (informal, traditional) law. Many disputes, ranging from disagreements over land to criminal acts, are settled outside of the formal court system, in informal institution such as local jirgas and shuras. Punishment is largely based on the concept of retribution and the type of punishment can differ significantly, but typically it is decided in a manner that is equal to how the perpetrator injured the victim. In territories under their control, the Taliban continued to operate a parallel judicial system, based on a strict interpretation of sharia. In the past years, Taliban courts have become significantly widespread and they are also reported to reach far beyond Taliban-held areas.

The report was drafted by EASO COI Sector in accordance with the EASO COI Report Methodology. It was reviewed by experts from The Netherlands, Office for Country Information and Language Analysis, Ministry of Justice.

At the end of 2019, with 2.7 million refugees, Afghanistan was the third largest country of origin of refugees in the world. Afghan continued to be the second most common citizenship of asylum applicants in the EU+ as of May 2020.

The EASO COI report: Afghanistan, Criminal law, customary justice and informal dispute resolution is the first in a series of reports on Afghanistan due to be published between July and September 2020.

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