Country of Origin Information (COI) is used in procedures for persons seeking international protection. Country of Origin Information (COI) is a source to understand the situation in the applicants’ country of origin and the circumstances. COI is the information used by government officials on analysis of countries of origin’s or countries of transit’s socio-politic circumstances during the assessment process of a person’s claim for international protection. All data collected by COI research is used in decision-making process. COI should be equally submitted to all decision-making bodies during the assessment process of a person’s claim for international protection. The data and information sources include the legislation of country of origin, reports published by international organizations, governmental and non-governmental organizations; media, links in country of origin and embassy reports.
COI supports legal advisors and persons making decisions on international protection in their evaluation of 
− the human rights and security situation  
− the political situation and the legal framework 
− cultural aspects and societal attitudes 
− the humanitarian and economic situation 
− events and incidents 
− as well as the geography in claimants’ countries of origin or countries of transit. 
Four different factors and stages providing the main quality standards for researching and using country of origin information are as followed: 
Relevance: Country of origin information has to be relevant to the circumstances of the applicant and to the issues raised by the case. COI used for deciding on international protection needs is relevant when it is based on questions rooted in legal concepts of refugee and human rights law or on questions derived from an applicant’s statements.
Reliability and Balance: Decisions on international protection needs should be certainly unbiased. Decisions on international protection needs should be based on COI from reliable sources, taking into account the source’s political and ideological context as well as its mandate, reporting methodology and motivation. Reliable and balancing sources should be consulted to achieve the most comprehensive and balanced country of origin information.
Accuracy and Currency: COI should include needed and filtered information corroborated by different types of sources; every piece of information should be produced from up-to-date sources and used without any manipulation or distortion. COI research should be conducted ethically and the sources previously used should be updated in case of reuse.
Transparency and Traceability: To ensure transparency, COI should be fully referenced to enable readers to independently verify and assess the information. Every piece of information should be traceable to its source. Information should be clearly and transparently presented. The quality standard of transparency and traceability basically includes the sources of information and activity of communication and documentation.
Up-to-date, reliable and comprehensive information of a country or a field necessitates the implementation of effective procedures. 
COI is a required information which is used after the first interview of international protection applicant; during the decision-making; in possible judicial appeal process; or in the process of residence permit provided for temporary international protection applicant or beneficiary and other form of processes.  
The quality of country of origin information is crucially important. Officials such as decision makers, lawyers of refugees, even policy makers use country of origin information to ensure an effective process and decision.
COI researches have become more complicated. Need for country of origin information have been increasing day to day and requiring expertise rather than RSD practitioners and decision-makers take the responsibility of doing the COI research. The member states of European Union established in previous years such refugee units which could be called country of origin information research. Then, these units began carrying out many activities in non-governmental organizations and courts. In addition, a growing number of seminars and meetings on this issue were organized. The rising importance of COI and the change of its role requires high-systematized quality standards. The most of refugee cases necessitates documentation and research, so in case of insufficient or inaccurate country of origin information and unfair decisions, the case can be refused by the court. European countries by their all actors involved in refugee process have already set the quality standards or still continue to set the standards on refugee issues. 
Country of origin information units generally take part in Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Justice. Country of origin information units were established in many member states of European Union in 1990s.Although the claims of applicants or international protection beneficiaries increased, most of the claims either was inappropriate or insufficient. COI units are responsible of gathering, providing and organizing the relevant information. Data provided by COI units may be used in all refugee processes. In countries which have no COI units, decision-makers may be responsible of collecting the whole relevant data for procedures for determining international protection needs. The process of gathering information by educated experts helps to shed light on the context of international or temporary protection claims as well as to provide the standardization in decision-making body. 
The Working Group of Country of Origin Information was established within International Protection Department in Directorate General of Migration Management in Turkey.
In Article 93 of Law on Foreigners and International Protection, it is stated that; “In assessing international protection claims, up-to-date information shall be compiled from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other sources with respect to the countries of origin, residence and transit in order to determine the accuracy of the claims put forward by applicants to ensure an effective and fair decision.” 
Country of origin information is collected; registered and updated by contacting with the relevant Ministry, national and international institutions, universities and non-governmental organizations. The data compiled is reported and brought into use.
A comprehensive COI does not discuss the issue only on humanitarian grounds; it also includes different kind of perspectives. COI provides data about the general developments in country of origin as well as about its ethnic, religious and other social groups; cultural traditions and possible security conditions.

8879   |   30/09/2015
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