Research Guides

Immigration Clinic Research Guide

Research Advice | General Resources on Human Rights and Human Displacement | Government, IGO, and NGO Reports on Human Rights | Resources on Gender | Resources on Torture | Immigration Law & Procedure Resources | Foreign & Comparative Law | Human Rights Educational Opportunities

Immigration Clinic Research Guide* **

The Immigration Clinic at the University of Maryland School of Law has provided these resources to assist the general public in researching United States asylum law. Resources provided include both online materials and print materials available at the University of Maryland School of Law’s Thurgood Marshall Law Library. This should not be construed as legal advice. If you are seeking representation, please contact a lawyer or the Immigration Clinic.

NOTE: Although a majority of the links provided are accessible to the public free of charge, a few consist of databases designed for the exclusive use of paying subscribers. Access to these databases will require you to submit an online payment.

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Research Advice

Consider the following suggestions before beginning your research:

  • Verify research quality – Just as important as finding information is making sure that information is reliable. When looking over your research, consider accuracy, authenticity, objectivity, and the origination date of the information, or the most recent update for such information.
  • Thorough review – Much of the information you may be seeking will require a careful reading of both legal and non-legal resources. Particularly when looking for factual information, a thorough reading of the material is necessary.
  • Save your research – Always remember to download or print useful information. As websites update their databases, important information you may have found one day may be in a different location or scrapped altogether the very next day, forcing you to re-engage in the research process.

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General Resources on Human Rights and Human Displacement

    Helpful materials include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • Human rights reports on several countries including information packets from the Human Rights Documentation Exchange
    • Legal research resources
    • Super Search – allows users to search multiple websites and resources at once.
    • Briefs (only available by registering on the site)
    • Expert witness database (only available by registering on the site)
    • Discussion Forum (only available by registering on the site)
  • Refworld
    • Helpful materials include, but are not limited to, the following:
      • Country reports
      • Country policy documents
      • Country legislation
      • Responses to Information Requests (RIRs) prior to 2003
      • Maps
      • Position papers
      • Case law
    • Research tip: Use the country name of interest to access information. From there you can then “filter” your findings to refine your results


  • African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights – includes periodic reports on the implementation of human rights treaties in several African nations.
  • – a current events website on African nations
  • Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative – contains reports prepared every two years by CHRI in preparation for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. Each report focuses on a different, critical theme related to human rights.
  • Derechos Human Rights – a comprehensive source for human rights materials including international organizations, governments, NGOs as well as legal information. It is also available in Spanish.
  • Ethnic News Watch – a subscription database that features newspapers, magazines and journals of the ethnic and minority press. The database has nearly 1.6 million full-text articles of which nearly one quarter is also presented in Spanish.
    • Very good source for those searching for diversity in viewpoints among media coverage
  • Forced Migration Online
    • Information on displacement due to war, disaster and development.
      • Regional resources including resource summaries and research guides for several nations
      • Thematic resources
      • Working papers
      • Journals
      • Organizations Directory
  • Human Rights Internet – A helpful website providing access to human rights databases and a comprehensive documentation centre
  • – A search engine of over 4,500 human rights websites engineered by the Human Rights Information and Documentation System. The site is available in nine languages including Spanish, French and Portuguese.
  • Immigration Advocates Network - "A free national online network that supports legal advocates working on behalf of immigrants' rights."
  • Inter-American Human Rights Database – A database provided by the American University Washington College of Law with annual reports, reports on sessions, and special reports provided in both English and Spanish
  • International Boundaries Research Unit
    Articles and other documents on country conditions in areas where there are disputed boundaries
  • Netherlands Institute of Human Rights
    • Documentation Centre – contains a library and a case law database. The case law database is particularly helpful as it contains jurisprudence of the Human Rights Committee, the Committee Against Torture, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
  • Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
  • – Provides links to newspapers around the world.
  • Project Diana: Online Human Rights Archive – an online database created by Yale Law School containing information on a multitude of human rights cases.
  • Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law
    • Publications – This includes a list of books and journals which one may consider consulting during their research. Most require payment.
    • Research – Includes reports and listings of many other helpful sources for a wide range of topics including children rights, humanitarian law, rights of indigenous people, and more.
  • Union of International Associations – contains online databases on a wide range of topics including world problems, global strategies, human values, human development and more which together total 1,971,457 links.
  • United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – useful for recent news and events concerning human rights
    • Official Documents of the United Nations – this includes a full-text search engine in six different languages covering all types of human rights documentation beginning in 1993, including all UN documents relevant to human rights.
    • United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) – contains reports produced by the Resource Information Center (RIC) which can be found under the following links:
      • Profiles – Documents providing a detailed history of a given country and identifying all of the groups at risk for human rights abuses, what has been done to these groups, and by whom.
      • Perspectives – Written perspectives by expert consultants which provide background information on the political and social conditions in a country as well as its human rights situation.
      • Question & Answer – Papers on emerging social and political developments in several countries.
      • Many of these same reports can be found by conducting an advanced search by simply providing the country’s name in the search box.
      • Resource Information Center (RIC), at 20 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington DC
        Although the RIC is not open to the public, it permits representatives of asylum applicants to visit by appointment. Call 202-272-1656. Their collection includes:
        • Index Media Reviews on many countries
        • Newspapers and magazines on human rights conditions in many countries and regions.
        • Country Studies
        • Boxes for each country containing detailed published information about human rights abuses
        • The latest State Department updates of country condition profiles
          • NOTE: Some of these profiles are available on Refworld, however they are not as updated.
  • University of Minnesota Human Rights Library – Available in eight different languages, the site currently has more than 85,000 human rights documents and materials and also links several helpful human rights websites. There is also a helpful human rights search engine available.
  • Westlaw and LexisNexis – Contains excellent databases providing full-text journal articles and law reviews on country conditions and human rights violations. Both sites also contain excellent databases for news sources and research.

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Government, IGO and NGO Reports on Human Rights


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Resources on Gender

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Resources on Torture


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Immigration Law & Procedure Resources


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Foreign & Comparative Law

The Georgetown University Law Center provides an excellent guide to researching foreign law: Foreign and Comparative Law Research


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Human Rights Educational Opportunities

  • Human Rights Education Association – HREA is an international organization dedicated to human rights leaning; the training of activists and professionals; the development of educational materials and programming; and on-line technologies. It is available in ten different languages
    • Includes a directory of organizations involved in human rights education, a global directory on human rights educators, and an annotated bibliography of human rights education materials
*This page was created by Jose Blanco, class of 2005 and updated by Jenny Rensler.

** You may contact Jenny Rensler, the clinic library liaison, for library-related questions at

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