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Working Group on Arbitrary Detention


Working Group on Arbitrary Detention 

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention was established by resolution 1991/42 of the former Commission on Human Rights. Its mandate was clarified and extended by Commission’s resolution 1997/50. The mandate was most recently extended by Human Rights Council resolution 42/22 of 26 September 2019 for a further three year period.

(a) To investigate cases of deprivation of liberty imposed arbitrarily or otherwise inconsistently with the relevant international standards set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or in the relevant international legal instruments accepted by the States concerned;

(b) To seek and receive information from Governments and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and receive information from the individuals concerned, their families or their representatives;

(c) To act on information submitted to its attention regarding alleged cases of arbitrary detention by sending urgent appeals and communications to concerned Governments to clarify and to bring to their attention these cases;

(d) To conduct field missions upon the invitation of Government, in order to understand better the situations prevailing in countries, as well as the underlying reasons for instances of arbitrary deprivation of liberty;

(e) To formulate deliberations on issues of a general nature in order to assist States to prevent and guard against the practice of arbitrary deprivation of liberty and to facilitate consideration of future cases;

(f) To present an annual report to the Human Rights Council presenting its activities, findings, conclusions and recommendations.

Furthermore, the Human Rights Council encourages the Working Group in fulfilling its mandate:

(a) To work in cooperation and dialogue with all those concerned by the cases submitted to it, and in particular with States that provide information which should be given due consideration;

(b) To work in coordination with other mechanisms of the Human Rights Council, with other competent United Nations bodies and with treaty bodies, bearing in mind the role of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in such coordination, and to take all necessary measures to avoid duplication with those mechanisms, in particular regarding the treatment of the communications it receives and field missions;

(c) To carry out its task with discretion, objectivity and independence.

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UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention held its 89th session, concluding 2020 with 92 opinions adopted

Study on arbitrary detention relating to drug policies

Deliberation No. 11 on prevention of arbitrary deprivation of liberty in the context of public health emergencies (Advance edited version) English | РусскийEspañol

Deliberation No. 10 on reparations for arbitrary deprivation of liberty (Advance edited version) English | Español

Call for input: Study on arbitrary detention relating to drug policies
English | Français | Español

Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: Preliminary Findings from its visit to Greece (2 - 13 December 2019)
English | Greek version

Working Group on Arbitrary Detention: Preliminary Findings from its visit to Qatar (3 - 14 November 2019)
Arabic | English

Revised Fact Sheet No.26

Revised Deliberation No. 5 on deprivation of liberty of migrants

Commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), Geneva, Switzerland, 28 November 2016

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

Members of the Working Group

Ms. Leigh Toomey
(Australia), since 2015 
Ms. Elina Steinerte
(Latvia), since 2016 
Mr. Seong-Phil Hong 
(Republic of Korea), since 2014
Ms Miriam Estrada-Castillo
(Ecuador), since 2020
Mr. Mumba Malila
(Zambia) since 2020

List of Former members of the Working Group...