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CALS Asylum Case Research Guide

How to research asylum cases and track human rights conditions by country.

Getting Started

Here are a few things to remember before jumping in as you locate legal and factual information in various countries.

  • Time period.  Databases and websites only cover specific years.  Check coverage dates.
  • Download & Print.  Links go bad and things disappear.  No guarantee the material or website will be there tomorrow.
  • Quality.  Consider objectivity, expediency, timeliness, accuracy, authenticity, and scope when viewing web info.
  • Legal & Non-law.  Consult both!  You will search newspapers, journal articles, directories, yearbooks, etc. Verify spelling (alternate spelling), names, and determine exact names of organizations and political parties.
  • Golden Nugget.  Prepare to trudge through many resources seeking the perfect source.
  • Print Still Lives.  Not everything is electronic.
  • Phone. You may actually have to call someone!

Now What? Down Arrow

Where to Start

You need to confirm the details of the client's persecution and other country conditions, such as was there a violent demonstration on a certain day, or are members of a certain political party beaten and jailed?

Country of Origin Research (Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada)
Extensive research by Canadian government on human rights abuses by country. Reports prior to 2003 are on Refworld. The National Documentation Packages can also be helpful.

European Country of Origin Information Network - ECOI
Compiles recent country information specifically geared to asylum claims. Select a country and browse the documents, or add additional search terms to narrow your results.


This is a vast collection of country information, reports, policy documents, national legislation, maps, position papers, case law, etc. Best to select country name and then use "filter" to refine the results.

U.S. State Dept Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
This annual report should always be supplemented by additional research, but is a great starting point.

Here 2 Help

International & Foreign Reference

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International Reference Desk:
Wolff International & Comparative Law Library, Lower Level
(202) 662-4195

Request a Research Consultation