Profile Updated: July 2016
Antigua and Barbuda Immigration Detention Profile
The tiny Caribbean island country of Antigua and Barbuda opened its first immigration detention centre in 2012. A government press release at the time stated: “The opening of the Detention Center is an effort to improve the current manner in which persons are detained. The Chief of Immigration says he expects that there will be some criticism with regard to the size and appearance of the facility but says ‘something is better than nothing.’”
The country relies heavily on tourism and the financial sector. While it has experienced low levels of migration during much of its history, Antigua and Barbuda recently experienced a modest upsurge in its migrant population. This could be the result of the diversification of the national economy and the significant influx of Central American migrants.
The Immigration and Passport Act of 1946 regulates entry of persons to the country. The law has provisions concerning the treatment of non-citizens who violate the law. Although administrative detention is only vaguely implied in the law, section 40 lists a number offences and accompanying penalties. Thus, for instance, it provides that “any prohibited immigrant who knowingly lands” on the territory may be sentenced to a maximum six month imprisonment.
The law also provides sharp restrictions on vessels and empowers masters of vessels to hold suspected prohibited persons on board. Section 26 of the act states: "The master of a vessel may use all reasonable and proper means (including force if necessary) to prevent any person landing in Antigua and Barbuda contrary to the provisions of this Act.” Masters and owners of vessels are also liable for repatriation expenses under the Act.
Observers have noted that Antigua and Barbuda, like many of its neighbouring island nations, lacks a developed civil society sector that can provide independent oversight and monitoring of immigration detention operations.
 Government of Antigua and Barbuda. 2012. Press Release: New Immigration Detention Center Opens." 10 July 2012. http://www.ab.gov.ag/article_details.php?id=3307&category=38