- Relevance: COI used for deciding on international protection needs is relevant when it is based on questions rooted in legal concepts of refugee and human rights law or on questions derived from an applicant's statements.
- Reliability and Balance: Decisions on international protection needs should be based on COI from reliable sources, taking into account the source's political and ideological context as well as its mandate, reporting methodology and motivation. As each source has its own perspective and focus, different sources and different types of sources should be consulted to achieve the most comprehensive and balanced picture possible.
- Accuracy and Currency: Only information that is correct and valid at the time a decision is made should be used. Accuracy and currency can be achieved by cross-checking and corroborating information.
- Transparency and Traceability: To ensure transparency, COI should be fully referenced to enable readers to independently verify and assess the information. Every piece of information should be traceable to its source. Information should be clearly presented and its meaning must not be distorted.
These standards rest on basic principles that should be observed when researching and using COI. While technical skills and an understanding of international protection are needed to adhere to quality standards, the principles form a frame around the standards and aim at contributing to fair procedures:
- Neutrality and impartiality: COI research should be conducted in a neutral manner with regard to the outcome. COI service providers should be impartial with regard to their clients.
- Equality of arms as regards access to information: COI should be equally available to all decision-making bodies and to legal advisors of applicants in procedures for persons seeking international protection. Applicants must have access to the information a decision is based on, so that they may comment on it.
- Using public information: To support fair procedures, publicly available information should be used. Public information is open to review and scrutiny by the applicant, experts and the public at large.
- Data protection: The personal data of a claimant and information that potentially may make the claimant identifiable must be protected and should never - directly or indirectly - be shared with the alleged persecutor.