European Country of Origin Information Network

By | 2 December 2009

This freely accessible database, funded by such organisations as the UNHCR, the ERF,  and the Austrian Government, is designed to help anyone assisting asylum claimants.

ECOI Net's home page

(You will see that there is a login option (top right). Registration is free and allows you extra functions eg saving documents you are going to use frequently in your own folder, receive alerts when new documents are added which relate to a country you are interested in.)

Among the categories of documents ECOI Net collects are National Laws. For example, if you needed to find out about Afghanistan’s  Shiite Personal Status Law of March 2009 this site can provide you with an English translation. The Advanced Search Screen is  clean & straightforward …

Advanced Search Screen via Tab

and quite flexible if you read the further Search Tips. In brief, AND, OR and NOT can be used to combine search terms, “…” designates phrase, ~n allows proximity searching, ? is the wildcard symbol for a single letter (anywhere except the very first letter of a word) and * the wildcard for multiple letters (also anywhere except at the beginning of words), ~ for fuzzy-searching (very useful with spelling insecurity!) as is soundex-search facility.  Finally, ( ) can be used to group search operators to construct more detailed searches.  Note the search engine has Thesaurus which automatically includes related terms for you in your search – unless you deselect the “Consider realted terms in search query”.  If you  have a mass of hits, the left hand column on the results’ screen will suggest a tick box way to refine them.
A good feature of the individual results is that headline shows you the source of the document, with an information i box giving a description of the source (in case you are not aware of their status or likely authority), and a hyperlink to that source’s own website. The full text of  the document behind each is shyly made available as a pdf, below a paragraph showing how your search terms are used in the context of that source.

Example of the result of a search

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