The Country Information Service of the Finnish Immigration Service produces country of origin information (COI) in particular about the countries from which asylum seekers, quota refugees and other immigrants come to Finland.
The purpose of producing country of origin information is to support decision-making, particularly on applications for international protection. It is also used when investigating residence permit matters and citizenship applications.
Country of origin information is obtained from a variety of sources and includes information on:
political or social circumstances;
human rights and security situation;
everyday matters, such as the accessibility of healthcare services or practices for the issuing of documents.
When needed, the Finnish Immigration Service produces information for national and international authorities, interest groups and organisations.
Information about countries is acquired from several sources. Country of origin information is obtained by conducting fact-finding missions and by gathering information from several sources, including:
the UN refugee agency UNHCR;
country information services of other countries;
international and local human rights organisations;
international news agencies.
Country information researchers have an international contact network. A regular and active exchange of information is taking place in particular between the European countries.
In addition to this, the Finnish Immigration Service cooperates with other authorities for example by working with the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). The most common countries of origin, including Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan, have their own research networks in which the Finnish Immigration Service is active.
Yes. The researchers of the Country Information Service conduct fact-finding missions to countries from which asylum seekers are coming to Finland.
During the missions, they build local contact networks that can assist them in monitoring the current security situation and maintaining other important aspects of the country information up to date.
The researchers of the Country Information Service are continuously monitoring the situation in the countries of origin and reporting on changes.
Country of origin information comes in many forms, such as situation reports, security reviews and thematic reports. These materials are reviewed and updated when the need arises, for instance if there are significant changes in the conditions in a country.
The Finnish Immigration Service always uses up-to-date country information when making decisions.
Country of origin information is constantly produced and updated to support decision-making. The researchers of the Country Information Service are acquiring information independently of the units where decisions are made.
An employee who needs to decide an asylum application may send a query to the Country Information Service. However, the query has to be formulated in such a way that it can be replied to with facts, without making political or other subjective judgements.
In most cases, the identity of the applicant is not revealed to the researchers. Only relevant background information, such as citizenship, age, gender and ethnic origin, will be disclosed. To make a decision, the asylum seeker’s statement and the evidence provided by the applicant in support of it is assessed at the unit deciding the application by comparing these to current country of origin information.
The Country Information Unit obtains information about the conditions in a country from several different sources. Results from different sources are compared with each other and evaluated critically.
The quality of the country of origin information is controlled for example by applying:
Common EU Guidelines for processing Country of Origin Information;
guide by the European Asylum Support Office EASO;
guidelines by the UN refugee agency UNHCR;
peer review and the general and ethical principles of research.