“The Asylum Systems Quality Initiative in Eastern Europe and South Caucasus” Project

            The Asylum Systems Quality Initiative in Eastern Europe and South Caucasus Project (ASQIEESC) which was jointly funded by the European Commission and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was launched in April, 2013. The aim of the project was to improve quality of asylum systems and international protection of refugees in Eastern Europe and South Caucasus and to improve, through a regional approach, the quality of decision-making on determination of refugee status. The project, budget of which is determined in the amount of 2 000 000 euros, is comprised of following components:

  • Improvement of quality in national asylum systems (identifying gaps and finding their solutions);
  • Development of training skills related to asylum issues through the European Asylum Curriculum;
  • Establishment of database on countries of origin in Russian.

            The UNHCR Representation in Azerbaijan and the State Migration Service received technical assistance within the aforementioned project. Database on human rights and refugees, as well as about countries of origin in Russian was put into operation within the first component of project by UNHCR. Furthermore, monitoring of determination procedure of refugee status was carried out, leaflets on interview were prepared, information on countries of origin was put into use in Azerbaijani and Russian languages, as well as booklets in different languages were published for asylum seekers.

            Agreement was reached for the continuation of the project successfully culminated on June, 2015. The official opening of the second phase of the project was organized in conference held in Stockholm on December 15-16, 2015 and was proceeded till the end of 2017.

            Within the second phase of the project regular meetings were held to effectively implement the project, discuss existing situation and future perspectives, employees of State Migration Service who are involved in refugee status determination process participated various events organized in our republic and abroad. Furthermore, training on related topics were held for the employees of relevant state authorities who work in border regions and engage in asylum/migration issues.

            Effective implementation of the project and achieved results paved the way for its third phase. The next phase of the project was launched in February 2018 in accordance with UNCHR’s application to Azerbaijani Government. The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Azerbaijan and State Border Service are also envisaged to participate in the third phase of the project along with State Migration Service. Thus, as it was in phase II of the project, border guards, judges and lawyers who are dealing with application processing procedure have been determined as a target group, besides employees of state entities making first instance decision with regard to asylum. The partners of the project are the Kingdom of Sweden and Federal Republic of Germany, European Asylum Support Office (EASO), International Association of Refugee Law Judges (IARLJ), European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX), law firms, European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), European legal network on asylum (ELENA).

            The third phase of project will also continue to implement activities through 3 thematic fields: quality assurance, capacity building and country of origin information. The training of national experts for refugee status determination, development of quality framework for first instance, border officials, judges and lawyers who were involved in asylum application reviewing process, developing training curriculum and preparing national experts, considering internal auditory mechanisms, expanding intraregional cooperation via trainings and study visits, facilitating access to qualitative country of origin information were among the main priorities within the new phase of the project.

            The meeting of Project Implementation Board, workshop on assessment of credibility, study visit to Georgia on interviewing techniques were organized with UNCHR officials, “Recommendations for the roadmap to refugee integration policy in Azerbaijan” had been developed and published jointly within the “Support to the Implementation of Mobility Partnership with Azerbaijan (MOBILAZE)” project implemented by International Center for Migration Policy Development, as well as discussions were held in Working Group meeting on integration and social protection issues of foreigners who granted refugee status in Azerbaijan towards implementation of the recommendations in the framework of phase III of the project.

            The third phase of the project finished on March 13, 2019.