About the mandate
The Working Group has the mandate to investigate cases of deprivation of liberty imposed arbitrarily or inconsistently with the international standards set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or the international legal instruments accepted by the States concerned.
The Working Group investigates alleged cases of arbitrary detention by sending urgent appeals and communications to concerned Governments to clarify and/or bring their attention to these cases. The Working Group also considers
individual complaints under its regular communications procedure, leading to the adoption of
opinions as to the arbitrariness of the detention. In addition, the Working Group conducts
country visits to assess the situation of deprivation of liberty in the country.
The mandate of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention was most recently extended by Human Rights Council resolution
42/22 in September 2019 for a further three-year period.
Read more about the mandate.
About the members
The Working Group is composed of five independent experts of balanced geographical representation. Together, they investigate individual cases and produce reports and opinions in order to fulfil the mandate. They meet three times a year in Geneva.
More on the members of the Working Group.
Revised Fact Sheet No.26 on The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
Providing an overview of the questions of how to define ‘deprivation of liberty’ and when it might become ‘arbitrary’; criteria to determine this, and an outline of the procedure through which the Working Group may assist those who are arbitrarily detained.
Basic Principles and Guidelines on Remedies and Procedures on the Right of Anyone Deprived of His or Her Liberty by Arrest or Detention to Bring Proceedings Before Court
Adopted in 2015, these guidelines are based on international law, standards and recognized good practice, and are intended to provide States with guidance on fulfilling their obligation to avoid the arbitrary deprivation of liberty. They concern the right of anyone deprived of his or her liberty to bring proceedings before a court in order that the court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of the detention and order the release of the individual if the detention is not lawful.
Methods of work of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
This document outlines how the Working Group functions, carries out its mandate, handles communications and urgent actions, and the procedure for country visits. It also clarifies how it works with other human rights mechanisms.
Study on Arbitrary Detention relating to Drug Policies: The present study is submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 42/22. In it, the Working Group examines how drug policies may result in human rights violations relating to arbitrary detention and makes recommendations. It draws on the Working Group’s own jurisprudence, positions taken by other human rights mechanisms and United Nations entities and contributions submitted by States and other stakeholders. View
report page | View document
2020 Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: In 2019, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, adopted 85 opinions concerning the detention of 171 persons in 42 countries. It transmitted 61 urgent appeals to 31 Governments and, in one case, to other actors, as well as 80 letters of allegations and other letters to 43 Governments and, in one case, other actors, concerning at least 377 identified individuals. This report studies the thematic issues of women deprived of liberty, the right to legal assistance in preventing arbitrary deprivation of liberty, and modern technologies and alternatives to detention.
View report page | View document
2019 Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: In 2018, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention adopted 90 opinions concerning the detention of 246 persons in 47 countries. It transmitted 75 urgent appeals to 34 Governments concerning 117 identified individuals and 94 letters of allegations and other letters to 52 Governments. In this report it studies the thematic issues of deprivation of liberty in the context of conscientious objection to military service, use of registers to avoid arbitrary detention, use of the Working Group’s opinions in domestic proceedings, and comprehensive reparations to victims of arbitrary detention.
View report page | View document
Mission to Greece (2 to 13 December 2019)
English | Greek
Mission to Qatar (3 to 14 November 2019)