The Independent Advisory Group on Country Information invites tenders to evaluate the coverage of children’s issues in the UKBA’s COI reports

Independent Advisory Group on Country Information

Invitation to tender for evaluation of the coverage of children’s issues in Country of Origin Information (COI) Reports produced by COI Service, UK Border Agency, Home Office

1. The Independent Advisory Group on Country Information (IAGCI) is part of the Office of the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration. Its main purpose is to review the content of all Country of Origin Information (COI) produced by the UK Border Agency to help ensure that this is as accurate, balanced, impartial and up to date as possible. COI is information used in procedures that assess claims of individuals to refugee status or other forms of international and humanitarian protection. It is also used in policy formulation. The full Terms of Reference for the IAGCI and minutes of earlier meetings are available on the website.

2. Normally IAGCI focuses on particular COI Reports produced by the UK Border Agency. COI Reports are produced at least twice a year on the top 20 asylum intake countries. They provide general background information about the issues most commonly raised in asylum claims made in the United Kingdom. They are compiled wholly from material produced by a range of recognised external information sources and do not contain any Home Office opinion or policy.

3. As well as focusing upon individual COI Reports, the IAGCI is concerned to examine the way that particular generic issues are dealt with across the full range of COI Reports produced on all twenty countries.  In the past such ‘cross-cutting’ reports have been commissioned (by the Group’s predecessor the Advisory Panel on Country Information) on gender issues; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues; return; and children.

4. At its next meeting in October 2012, the IAGCI will consider the way that children’s issues are dealt with in each of the 20 COI Reports produced, and is looking to commission a review of the material in order to inform this. The person commissioned to undertake this project will be an experienced researcher with expertise on children’s issues and some knowledge of asylum and human rights issues, but will not be expected to be an expert on all countries concerned.

5. The review should aim to provide a brief assessment of the coverage of children’s issues in each COI Report regarding: (i) completeness – the extent to which relevant available information on the position of children has been reflected in the COI report (additional sources should be identified where appropriate); and (ii) accuracy and balance – whether relevant information from source material has been accurately and appropriately reflected in the COI Report, noting any specific errors or omissions.

6. The review should also provide a brief comparative summary, noting the strengths and weaknesses of the coverage of children’s issues in the different reports.

7. The review should also consider the extent to which the recommendations made in the first review of children’s issues have been implemented. The earlier review  provides a good model for the new review.

8. Before beginning the project, the researcher should carefully consider the preface of the COI Reports to ensure that the specific context of this work is fully understood. The stated purpose of the documents is to provide an accurate, balanced and up to date summary of the key available source documents regarding the human rights situation in the country covered. In carrying out the project, the researcher should also bear in mind that the level of information provided in each COI Report on any given issue will depend upon the relevance of that issue to the country concerned and the availability of information.

9. While there is room for individual discretion in the way the researcher approaches the task and prepares a review, it would be helpful for IAGCI if some specific guidelines were followed:

(i) The COI Report should be reviewed in the context of its purpose as set out in paragraph 8 above, and the stated ‘cut off’ date for inclusion of information in the report.
(ii) When suggesting amendments, rather than ‘tracking changes’ on the original UKBA document, a list of suggested changes should be provided as part of the review paper.
(iii) Any suggestions for additional information (or corrections to information in the document) must be referenced to a source document for the UKBA to be able to use it. If no published source is available to support the suggested information, the reviewer may supply a letter providing the information for use as a source document. UKBA can use foreign language source documents, but only if the information is considered essential and is not available in English language source.

10. Reviewers are requested to attend the IAGCI meeting at which their review will be considered. The UK Border Agency will also be represented at the meeting to provide responses to comments and recommendations made in the review.

11. Reviews commissioned by IAGCI may be used as source documents for future COI Reports.

12. Reviews are required by 14 September 2012.

13. A flat fee of £5,000 is offered for this work.

14. Researchers interested in completing reviews should submit a one page CV or letter demonstrating their expertise in children’s issues, human rights and asylum issues to the IAGCI Chair, Dr Khalid Koser, at, by 27 July 2012. Reviews will be commissioned by 1 August 2012.

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