No Data

Immigration detainees

No Data

Detained children





International migrants






The detention of migrants does not appear to be a significant issue in Eritrea as it is not a destination for migrants but rather a source country for refugees attempting to flee to Europe and the Gulf. Eritrea’s authoritarian government reportedly does not provide information on the detention of foreigners or allow independent groups to monitor detention centres, making it effectively impossible to get any details about this issue.

Types of facilities used for migration-related detention
Administrative Ad Hoc Criminal Unknown

Related Reading

11 September 2020

Eritrean Refugee Camp in the Tigray Region near the Eritrean Border, (Tiksa Negeri, Reuters,
Eritrean Refugee Camp in the Tigray Region near the Eritrean Border, (Tiksa Negeri, Reuters, "Ethiopia plans to close Eritrean refugee camp despite concerns," Al Jazeera, 19 April 2020,

Although Eritrea long hosted a small population of Somali refugees (roughly 2,000 as of early 2019), in mid-2019 the government closed its only refugee camp, Umkulu, spurring most of the refugees to flee across the border into neighbouring Ethiopia. By the end of 2019, UNHCR reported that there were only 650 refugees remaining in the country. The move to shut the camp came after many years of growing concerns about the treatment of foreigners in the country, including past concerns about possible clandestine detention of migrants. However, there appears to be no public information available about the current status of refugees and migrants in the country, nor about any efforts to safeguard them during the Covid-19 pandemic.

On 3 April, UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Eritrea called on the government to “immediately and unconditionally release those detained without legal basis, including all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, and to adopt urgent measures to reduce the number of people in detention to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” In addition, Human Rights Concern Eritrea, a local NGO, urged the government to release the 10,000 prisoners of conscience that are detained throughout the country’s 350 facilities. The organisation stated that in Eritrean prisons, there may be 100-400 people in a single cell. Containers are also reportedly used to hold some 30 detainees at the same time.

Prison visits were suspended on 2 April. However, according to Amnesty International, sanitary measures were not implemented. Conditions in prisons have been described as inhumane due to the “overcrowding and the general lack of adequate sanitation, healthcare and food.” In Adi Abeyito prison, which is meant to accommodate 800 people, there have been reports of the populations exceeding 2,500. Amnesty International also noted that there are many unofficial detention centres across the country about which there is little or no information available.

Last updated: August 2016

Eritrea Immigration Detention Profile

As Eritrea is not a transit or destination country, the detention of migrants does not appear to be a significant issue.[1] Nevertheless, according to the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, it is difficult to know the true extent of immigration-related detention in Eritrea because the authoritarian government denies access to relevant information and prohibits monitoring by independent groups and the International Committee for the Red Cross.

In 2013, the U.S. Department of State reported that there were no foreigners detained in Eritrea that year. However, when the Eritrean government was questioned about missing people from other countries, authorities prevented foreign officials from accessing relevant   information.

A related aspect of Eritrea’s detention practices is its detention and punishment of Eritrean nationals who attempt to leave the country without authorisation. Punishment varies depending on the intended destination of the fleeing person. For example, trying to enter Sudan is punishable by three years imprisonment, while attempting to enter Ethiopia is punishable by death. In addition, it has been reported that Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers who are returned to Eritrea are often detained and tortured. It is also not uncommon for those caught fleeing Eritrea to be held in secret locations without outside contact.


[1] This summary relies primarily on information gathered from reports from the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, in particular its February 2015 report Behind Bars: The Detention of Migrants in and from the East & Horn of Africa, available at; and the U.S. State Department’s 2013 human rights report on Eritrea, available at


International migrants
International migrants as a percentage of the population
Ratio of refugees per 1000 inhabitants
Total number of new asylum applications
Stateless persons
Total number of immigration detainees by year
Number of immigration detainees on a given day
Top nationalities of detainees
Number of persons granted alternatives to immigration detention
Number of detained asylum seekers
Total number of detained minors
Number of detained unaccompanied minors
Number of detained accompanied minors
Number of detained stateless persons
Number of apprehensions of non-citizens
Immigration detainees as a percentage of total international migrant population
Estimated total immigration detention capacity
Number of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
Estimated capacity of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
Number of dedicated medium-term immigration detention centres
Number of immigration offices
Number of transit facilities
Number of criminal facilities
Number of ad hoc facilities
Number of persons removed/returned (voluntary returns and deportations)
Number of deportations/forced returns only
Percentage of persons removed in relation to total number of people placed in removal procedures
Criminal prison population
Percentage of foreign prisoners
Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)
Estimated number of undocumented migrants
Refugee recognition rate


Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD)
Unemployment Rate
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in millions USD)
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)
186 (Low)
Remittances to the country
Remittances from the country
Unemployment rate amongst migrants
Detention for deterrence
Pew Global Attitudes Poll on Immigration
Immigration Index Score
World Bank Rule of Law Index
Domestic Opinion Polls on Immigration


Legal tradition
Civil law
Customary law
Muslim law
Constitutional guarantees?
Core pieces of national legislation
Additional legislation
Regulations, standards, guidelines
Immigration-status-related grounds
Non-immigration-status-related grounds providing for administrative detention in immigration legislation.
Does the country provide specific criminal penalties for immigration-related violations?
Grounds for criminal immigration-related detention/incarceration and maximum potential duration of incarceration
Has the country decriminalized immigration-related violations?
Maximum length for administrative immigration detention in law.
Longest recorded instance of immigration detention.
Maximum length of time in custody prior to issuance of a detention order
Average length of detention
Maximum length of detention for asylum-seekers
Maximum length of detention for persons detained upon arrival at ports of entry
Provision of basic procedural standards
Types of non-custodial measures
Impact of alternatives
Is the detention of vulnerable persons provided in law? Are they detained in practice?
Mandatory detention
Expedited/fast track removal
Re-entry ban


Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
International treaty reservations
Individual complaints procedure
Ratio of complaints procedures accepted
Treaty bodies decisions on individual complaints
Relevant recommendations issued by treaty bodies
Regional treaty reservations
Regional judicial decisions on individual complaints
Recommendations issued by regional human rights mechanisms
Bilateral/multilateral agreements linked to readmission
Visits by special procedures of the Human Rights Council
Relevant recommendations by UN Special Procedures


Federal or centralized governing system
Centralized or decentralized immigration authority
Custodial authority
Apprehending authorities
Detention Facility Management
Formally designated detention estate?
Types of detention facilities used in practice
Authorized monitoring institutions
Is the national human rights institution (NHRI) recognized as independent?
Does NHRI carry out visits?
Does NHRI have capacity to receive complaints?
Does NHRI publicly release reports on immigration detention?
Does national preventive mechanism (NPM) carry out visits?
Does NPM have capacity to receive complaints?
Does NPM publicly release reports on immigration detention?
Do NGOs carry out visits?
NGO capacity to receive complaints?
Do NGOs publish reports on immigration detention?
Do parliamentary organs carry out visits?
Do parliamentary organs have capacity to receive complaints?
Do parliamentary organs publicly report on their detention findings?
Do internal inspection agencies (IIAs) carry out visits?
Do IIAs have capacity to receive complaints?
Do IIAs publicly report their findings from detention inspections?
Do international and/or regional bodies (IRBs) visit immigration-related detention facilities?
Do IRBs publicly report their findings from inspections?
Types of privatisation/outsourcing
Detention contractors and other non-state entities
Estimated annual budget for detention operations
Estimated annual budgets for particular detention-related activities
Estimated cost per detainees day (in USD)
Estimated annual budget for non-custodial measures (in USD)
Estimated costs of non-custodial measures (in USD)
Does the country receive external sources of funding?
Description of foreign assistance