In this section


UNHCR is concerned about the detention of asylum-seekers, refugees and stateless persons in the immigration context, especially children. UNHCR takes the position that, consistent with international refugee and human rights law and standards, detention of asylum seekers normally should be avoided and considered only as a measure of last resort. As seeking asylum is not an unlawful act, any restrictions on liberty imposed on persons exercising this right must be provided for in law, carefully circumscribed and subject to prompt review. Detention is an exceptional measure that can be justified only when it is determined to be necessary, reasonable in all the circumstances, and proportionate to a legitimate purpose in each individual case. 

Legal Instruments


UN General Assembly

Regional Instruments 

General Comments 


Tools & Training



Alternatives to Detention Self-study Modules, November 2018 

Immigration Detention Monitoring Self-study Modules, November 2018 

Fundamentals of Immigration Detention e-Learning Course (external)