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Country Condition Research for Your Asylum Case

Country Condition Research is extremely important when putting together a strong asylum packet, for both affirmative asylum in front of the asylum officer and defensive asylum in front of an Immigration Judge. This post will help both asylum seekers and their attorneys.

State Department Human Rights Report – The asylum officer or ICE attorney has very little time to do their own country research for asylum claims. They will generally rely only on the State Department Human Rights Report. It will be regarded as highly persuasive and should be read thoroughly for supporting and contradicting evidence. The reports are updated each year and are available here www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt
 
International Human Rights Organizations – There are several major international human rights organizations that issue country reports and issue specific reports. The following organizations should be surveyed for supporting evidence for your case, such as evidence that certain human rights abuses are occurring in your country. 1. Amnesty International http://www.amnesty.org and http://www.aiusa.org 2. Human Rights Watch http://www.hrw.org 3. Human Rights First http://www.humanrightsfirst.org 4. United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights http://www.ohchr.org There may also be regional and local human rights organizations. They can usually be found by typing the search terms [“human rights”] and [“country name”].
 
Issue Specific Research – Many of the human rights organizations will cover broad topics with the occasional issue specific report. It is important to have information that addresses the issue that is at the heart of the asylum claim. One should search the issue term in google along with the country name, such as “gay rights” and “mexico” or “FGM” and “Yemen”. There are also many issue specific organizations that will have country specific information. Here are a few: International Gay and Lesbian Association http://www.ilga.org International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission http://www.iglhrc.org http://www.humantrafficking.org http://www.madre.org (international women’s rights org.) http://www.ifj.org (International Federation of Journalists) http://www.jdhr.org/ (Journalists for Democracy and Human Rights) http://www.transparency.org (Transparency International – Corruption) www.freedomhouse.org
 
Newspapers and Media – Supporting evidence can also be found in newspaper articles, whether they are about a general topic or one event specific to your case. You should be looking at the websites of all the newspapers in your country as well as the major international newspapers such as the New York Times (www.nytimes.com) and the BBC www.bbc.co.uk.
 
Google – Google is an amazing tool, it will help you find anything. One trick is to use several different ways of saying the same search term. Don’t just type in “police abuse” and “iran”, also type in ” police” and “human rights” and “iran”. Also try “Tehran” and “police” and “corruption”. Try “police” and “middle east” etc…
 
Amazon.com and Books – Finally, search amazon.com for a book on your country or your specific issue. When you find the book, look for the author’s name and do a google search of him or her. You may be able to find their own website. Books on countries and politics are usually written by academics or journalists, so they may have their own bio up with an email. Don’t hesitate to email them and ask for any help. They may be able to write an affidavit attesting to their knowledge of the human rights abuses that occur in your country.
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