The Independent Advisory Group on Country Information invites tenders to evaluate how sexual orientation and gender identity (also referred to as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex or LGBTI issues) are dealt with in the Home Office’s Country of Origin Reports.

  1. The Independent Advisory Group on Country Information (IAGCI) is part of the Office of the Chief Inspector of the UK Home Office. Its main purpose is to review the content of all Country of Origin Information (COI) produced by the Home Office 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 its website
     
  2. Normally IAGCI focuses on particular COI Reports produced by the Home Office. COI Reports are produced regularly 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; children and return issues.
     
  4. At its next meeting to be held in January 2014, the IAGCI will consider the way that sexual orientation and gender identity (also referred to as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex or LGBTII issues) are dealt with in each of the 20 COI Reports produced. The group 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 protection issues pertaining to LGBTI issues and some knowledge of asylum and human rights issues, but will not be expected to be an expert on all countries concerned.
     
  5. While the review should consider all 20 COI reports, it should devote particular attention to the COI reports for Gambia, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Uganda as significant numbers of claims are currently being received in the UK from these countries (most claims are on the basis of sexual orientation rather than gender identity, but coverage of all issues will be important). The review should focus on the sections on sexual orientation and gender identity (referred to as LGBT or LGBTI issues in most reports), but should also consider the extent to which sensitivity to sexual identity and gender identity is appropriately reflected elsewhere in the reports.
     
  6. The review should aim to provide a brief assessment of the sections on sexual orientation and gender identity in each COI Report regarding: (i) completeness – the extent to which relevant available information on sexual orientation and gender identity issues 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.
     
  7. The review should provide a brief comparative summary, noting the strengths and weaknesses of the sections on sexual orientation and gender identity in the different reports.
     
  8. An earlier review of LGBT Issues was conducted by the precursor of the IAGCI, the Advisory Panel on Country Information, in 2008. On the basis of that review, a revised template for coverage of sexual orientation and gender issues was developed. The review should consider the extent to which the recommendations made in the 2008 review (both the review and the template will be made available to the researcher) have been implemented, and should evaluate how well the individual COI Reports have followed the thematic template. If necessary, the reviewer should recommend any changes needed to be made to the template.
     
  9. 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.
     
  10. 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 9 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 Home Office 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 Home Office 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. The Home Office can use foreign language source documents, but only if the information is considered essential and is not available in English language source.
  11. The reviewer will be requested to attend the IAGCI meeting at which his/her review will be considered. The UK Home Office will also be represented at the meeting to provide responses to comments and recommendations made in the review.
     
  12. Reviews commissioned by IAGCI may be used as source documents for future COI Reports.
     
  13. Reviews are required by 15 December 2013.
     
  14. A flat fee of £5,000 is offered for this work.
     
  15. Researchers interested in completing reviews should submit a one page CV or letter demonstrating their expertise with respect to issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity, human rights and asylum to the IAGCI Chair, Dr Laura Hammond, at laura.hammond@soas.ac.uk, by 1 November 2013. Reviews will be commissioned by 4 November March 2013.
     

 

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