Detention of Refugees


More and more refugees and asylum seekers are detained around the world, often in conditions below international standards, and denied their basic rights, including access to asylum.  Thus, there is an urgent need for increased involvement by advocates to monitor conditions of detention, to provide effective and quality legal representation and to promote access to asylum by those seeking international protection.

NGOs and individuals can play a number of vital roles in places of detention.  These include providing formal or informal services such as social support, welfare assistance, health care and legal advice.  Groups can also monitor places of detention and advocate at the local, national, regional and international levels on a range of issues, including those relating to the treatment of detainees, procedural safeguards forming the basis of detention, and material conditions of detention.  The challenges facing groups and individuals working in places of detention are many, including restrictions on access for legal aid providers, UNHCR and even the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), risk of reprisals, and ethical considerations relating to confidentiality and privacy issues.

Below are a number of relevant links and legal resources for those working with refugees and asylum-seekers at risk of detention.  For more information on the issue of the detention of refugees and asylum seekers, see the Special Issues section.

Guidelines and manuals

UNHCR Materials