2020 Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

24 July 2020
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
At the 45th session of the HRC


In 2019, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, under its regular procedure, adopted 85 opinions concerning the detention of 171 persons in 42 countries. It also 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. Some States informed the Working Group that they had taken measures to remedy the situations of detainees and, in multiple cases, the detainees were released. The Working Group is grateful to those Governments that responded to its appeals and took steps to provide it with the information requested on the situation of detainees.

As part of its continuous dialogue with States, the Working Group conducted country visits to Qatar, from 3 to 14 November 2019, and to Greece, from 2 to 13 December 2019. The Working Group continued to formulate deliberations on matters of a general nature to assist States and stakeholders in preventing and addressing cases of arbitrary deprivation of liberty. This included development of deliberation No. 10 on reparations for arbitrary deprivation of liberty and deliberation No. 11 on prevention of arbitrary deprivation of liberty in the context of public health emergencies.

Furthermore, in cooperation with the Working Group on discrimination against women and girls, the Working Group developed a joint amicus curiae brief addressing the arrest and detention of applicants who were among 71 women suspected of being sex workers and allegedly physically and sexually assaulted while in custody.

In the report, the Working Group also examines the following thematic issues:

  1. women deprived of liberty
  2. the right to legal assistance in preventing arbitrary deprivation of liberty
  3. modern technologies and alternatives to detention

In its recommendations, the Working Group calls for States to increase their cooperation with regard to their responses to regular communications, by reporting through the follow-up procedure on the implementation of the opinions of the Working Group (and on reparations undertaken) and by providing positive responses to requests for country visits.

It also encourages States to address the situation of female detainees, to ensure the right to legal assistance and to address the issue of modern technologies in the context of deprivation of liberty.