No detention centre mapping data


Argentina Immigration Detention

Argentina rarely applies immigration detention measures and the length of detention tends to be very short. In 2015, it adopted regulations aimed at establishing specific immigration detention procedures. There are recent cases of people being detained for long periods in inadequate conditions and new government initiatives seek to boost deportation numbers.

Quick Facts


International migrants (2015): 2,086,000
New asylum applications (2016): 1,871

Profile Updated: October 2015

Argentina Immigration Detention Profile

Although Argentina has experienced a steady rise in the influx of migrants—mainly from neighbouring countries and MERCOSUR[1] member states—the country reportedly only rarely applies detention measures for immigration-related reasons.[2] In 2015, the country adopted a Manual of Procedures for the Judicial Retention of Foreigners in the framework of the National Direction of Migration[3] that clarifies detention-related procedures and human rights benchmarks. Policy initiatives introduced in 2014 seek to crack down on irregular migration by facilitating the deportation of regional migrants who have been arrested for certain crimes not related to their immigration status.[4]

The National Migration Law (law number 25.871), or Ley de Migraciones, was adopted in January 2004. This law and its accompanying Regulatory Decree (number 616/2010) include provisions against discrimination based on nationality.

In 2006, the “Patria Grande” program (known as the Programa Nacional de Normalización Documentaria Migratoria) entered into force, aiming to regularize the status of undocumented migrants and refugees arriving from countries affiliated with MERCOSUR.

According to the 2014 Oxford Pro Bono Publico Report on Arbitrary Detention, Argentina has one of the more inclusive definitions of detention, which is included in the Habeas Corpus law, number 23.098.[5] This definition provides that detention “includes all types of procedures in which a person’s freedom of movement is restricted.”[6]

The Migration Law refers to immigration detention as “retention” (retención), a euphemism that initially came to be associated with immigration detention in France in the 1970s and early 1980s, when that country first began systematically implementing immigration detention measures.[7] The Migration Law provides that detention shall be based on a well-founded resolution and its only objective is to carry out expulsion orders (article 70).

Under article 70 of the Migration Law, when an expulsion order is “firm and consented,” the Ministry of Interior or the National Direction of Migration (Dirección Nacional de Migraciones) shall request the judicial authority to order a non-citizen’s detention by means of a well founded resolution and for the sole reason of effecting a removal.  

As specified in the 2015 Manual of Procedures for the Judicial Retention of Foreigners in the framework of the National Direction of Migration, while requesting judicial bodies to order detention, the authorities should show facts and reasons for detention and a copy of the expulsion order. In exceptional circumstances, where there are objective reasons to presume that the person will evade the expulsion order, the Interior Ministry or the National Direction of Migration can also request the judicial authority to order detention even where the expulsion order is not yet “firm and consented.”

The 2015 Manual of Procedures clarifies that once a detention order is made, a person can be apprehended by the migration police (Policia Migratoria Auxiliar), which is comprised of the coast guard (Prefectura Naval), national police (Gendarmeria Nacional), airport security police (Policia de Seguridad Aeroportuaria), and federal police (Policia Federal). 

The time-span of detention shall not exceed what is strictly necessary to carry out the expulsion (article 70 of the Migration Law). The Migration Law's Regulatory Decree further clarifies that the National Direction of Migration can request detention for 15 days. Where enforcement of the expulsion order is delayed due to reasons not dependent on migration authority and provisional release is not possible due to reasons specific to the individual case, the National Direction of Migration can request the judicial authority to extend detention by additional 30 days. In such a case, every 10 days, the National Direction of Migration shall present to a judicial organ a report explaining all the measures undertaken to enforce expulsion and reasons justifying detention.

The 2015 Manual of Procedures provides that once detention is ordered, the National Direction of Migration—either on its own initiative or following the request by the detainee—can provisionally release a person from detention. The Migration Act provides for a bail combined with reporting to migration authorities as an alternative to detention (article 71 of the Migration Law). The Global Detention Project does not have information concerning whether these non-custodial measures are used in practice or systematically considered as part of the detention decision-making process.

The migration police is in charge of detention (article 71 of the Migration Law). The Migration Law´s Regulatory Decree (article 72) provides that immigration detainees are to be placed in adequate facilities and detained separately from people in criminal proceedings. Additionally, the 2015 Manual of Procedures provides that they should be detained in different facilities (establecimientos) than those used for criminal reasons. A person’s family situation is also to be taken into account.

Exceptionally, the National Direction of Migration can confine migrants in “private facilities” (lugares privados), under the charge of the migration police, if the police is not able to guarantee adequate detention conditions. It is not clear what the term “private facilities” refers to precisely.

Although Argentina appears to have comparably tolerant migration control policies, observers have pointed to various areas of concern. For instance, there are reports of people being held for lengthy periods to complete identity checks. While detention for this reason is intended to be brief (10 hours in Buenos Aires, and 24 hours in other parts of the country) there is no information on whether these limits are systematically respected. According to a report by the Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales, there have been cases in which apprehending officers have arbitrarily changed the reasons for arrest in cases dealing with non-citizens to include “resisting arrest” charges in addition to simple identity check, which can lead to migrants being held for longer periods and to criminal convictions.[8]

There have also been recent cases reported in the press involving migrants being detained as part of deportation procedures for periods that exceed legal limits. In one case from 2014-2015, a female migrant from South Africa was detained for six months at the prison Unidad 31 - Centro Federal de Detención de Mujeres before finally being returned to her country of origin. She was under an expulsion order, but the National Direction of Migration would only agree to pay her ticket from Argentina to Brazil, and effectively sanctioned her economically by asking her to pay for her ticket from Brazil to Argentina. She was maintained in detention until the Procuración Penitenciaria de la Nación submitted an “habeas corpus”, which ended with the National Direction of Migration finding a ticket for the woman, six months after her original sentence.[9]

Although Argentinian law explicitly provides for holding immigration detainees in specialized areas, as of late 2015 the country did not have any dedicated immigration detention facilities and authorities continued to use prisons and other sites for the purposes of immigration detention. An adviser to the country’s Immigration Department explained to the GDP that no specialized facilities have been built because “detention is managed on an ad hoc basis (very few migrants end up detained)” and because “the government is against the building of special detention centres.” She explained that immigration detainees “are held in special rooms” operated by the Policías Migratorias Auxiliares.[10]

 

[1] The South American free trade bloc comprised of 10 members and affiliates, which is advancing towards a regional integration process like the European Union, including migration agreements.

[2] International Detention Coalition (IDC). 2014. Informe Regional: Detención Migratoria y Alternativas a la detención en las Américas. International Detention Coalition. P.5.

[3] Disposicion DNM Number 3327 from 28 July 2015.

[4] Le Republica. 2014. “Peruanos en Argentina serán expulsados si son descubiertos en delitos.” 23 October 2014. http://archivo.larepublica.pe/23-10-2014/peruanos-en-argentina-seran-expulsados-si-son-descubiertos-en-delitos.

[5] Centro de Documentación e Información, Ministerio de Economía y Finanzas Publicas de Argentina. 1984. Procedimiento de Habeas Corpus Ley N°23.098 1984 -  Procedimiento de Habeas Corpus Ley N°23.098. Centro de Documentación y Información (1984). http://infoleg.mecon.gov.ar/infolegInternet/anexos/45000-49999/48612/norma.htm

[6] Oxford Pro Bono Publico. Remedies and Procedures on the Right of Anyone Deprived of His or Her Liberty by Arrest or Detention to Bring Proceedings Before a Court: A Comparative and Analytical Review of State Practice. Oxford University Faculty of Law. April 2014. http://ohrh.law.ox.ac.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/2014.6-Arbitrary-Detention-Project.pdf

[7] Richard, C. and Fischer, N. 2010. “A Legal Disgrace? The Retention of Deported Migrants in Contemporary France.” Social Science Information 581. 47(4). 2010.

[8] Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales. 2008. Regimen Federal: Detenciones por Averiguación de Identidad en la Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, 2. 2008. http://cels.org.ar/common/documentos/estadisticas_detenciones.pdf

[9] Procuración Penitenciaria de la Nación. 2015. La acción de habeas corpus presentada por la PPN logró que se efectivice la expulsión de una ciudadana sudafricana que sufría una demora de 6 meses- Procuración Penitenciaria de la Nación. February 2015. http://www.ppn.gov.ar/?q=HC_presentado_por_la_PPN_logro_que_se_efectivice_la_expulsion_de_una_ciudadana_sudafricana_que_sufria_una_demora_de_6_meses

[10] Paula Carello (Dirección Nacional de Migraciones), Email Correspondence with Michael Flynn (Global Detention Project), 18 September 2015.

Centres List

No detention centres data available

Statistics Expand all



1

Number of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres

2016

  • Number of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
NumberObservation Date
12016


72,693

Criminal prison population

2015

  • Criminal prison population
NumberObservation Date
72,6932015
64,2882013
62,2632012
60,7892011
60,6112008
63,3572005
57,6322002
35,8081998
25,8521995
21,0161992


6.2

Percentage of foreign prisoners

2015

  • Percentage of foreign prisoners
PercentageObservation Date
6.22015
5.42013
5.82012


167

Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)

2015

  • Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)
NumberObservation Date
1672015
1542013
1492012
1472011
1512008
1632005
1522002
991998
741995
621992



43,417,000

Population

2015

  • Population
NumberObservation Date
43,417,0002015
41,100,0002012


2,086,000

International migrants

2015

  • International migrants
NumberObservation Date
2,086,0002015
1,885,7002013


4.8

International migrants as a percentage of the population

2015

  • International migrants as a percentage of the population
PercentageObservation Date
4.82015
4.52013


3,222

Refugees

2016

  • Refugees
NumberObservation Date
3,2222016
3,2072015
3,4152014


0.08

Ratio of refugees per 1000 inhabitants

2014

  • Ratio of refugees per 1000 inhabitants
NumberObservation Date
0.082014
0.082013
0.092012


1,871

Total number of new asylum applications

2016

  • Total number of new asylum applications
NumberObservation Date
1,8712016
8312014
1,9222013
1,4672012


26.6

Refugee recognition rate

2015

  • Refugee recognition rate
NumberObservation Date
26.62015
252012


0

Stateless persons

2016

  • Stateless persons
NumberObservation Date
02016
02014

Domestic Law Expand all

Legal tradition Show sources
NameObservation Date
Civil law2016

Constitutional guarantees?
NameConstitution and ArticlesYear AdoptedLast Year Amended
YesArticles 18 and 431994
Core pieces of national legislation
NameYear AdoptedLast Year Amended
Regulation of the National Migration Law (Decree 616/2010 )2010
National Migration Act (No. 25,871)2004
Regulations, standards, guidelines Show sources
NameYear Published
Manual de Procedimiento: Retencion Judicial de Extranjeros2015

Immigration-status-related grounds Show sources
NameObservation Date
Detention to prevent unauthorised entry at the border2016
Detention to prevent absconding2016
Detention to effect removal2015

Maximum length for administrative immigration detention in law. Show sources
Number of DaysObservation Date
452015

Provision of basic procedural standards
NameIn LawIn PracticeObservation Date
Information to detaineesYes2016
Right to legal counselYes2016
Access to free interpretation services2016
Access to consular assistanceYes2016
Right to appeal the lawfulness of detentionYes2016
Independent review of detentionYes2016

Types of non-custodial measures Show sources
NameIn LawIn PracticeObservation Date
Release on bailYesinfrequently2015
Supervised release and/or reportingYesinfrequently2015

Is the detention of vulnerable persons provided in law? Are they detained in practice?
NameIn LawIn PracticeObservation Date
Accompanied minorsNot mentioned2016
Pregnant womenNot mentioned2016
Unaccompanied minorsNot mentioned2016
Asylum seekersNot mentioned2016
ElderlyNot mentioned2016
Persons with disabilitiesNot mentioned2016
RefugeesNot mentioned2016
Stateless personsNot mentioned2016
Survivors of tortureNot mentioned2016
WomenNot mentioned2016
Victims of traffickingNot mentioned2016

Mandatory detention
FilterNameObservation Date
No2016

Expedited/fast track removal
NameObservation Date
No2016
Re-entry ban
NameObservation Date
Yes2016

International Law Expand all

International treaties Show sources
NameRatification Year
OP ICESCR, Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights2011
OP CRC Communications Procedure2015
CRPD, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2008
ICRMW, International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families2007
ICPED, International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance2007
OPCAT, Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment2004
CTOCTP, Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children2002
CTOCSP, Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime2002
CRC, Convention on the Rights of the Child1990
ICCPR, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights1986
ICESCR, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights1986
CAT, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment1986
CEDAW, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women1985
CRSSP, Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons1972
ICERD, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination1968
PCRSR, Protocol to the Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees1967
VCCR, Vienna Convention on Consular Relations1967
CRSR, Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees1961
Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
  18/19
Individual complaints procedure Show sources
NameAcceptance Year
CRC, [Third] Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child establishing a communications procedure, 20112015
ICESCR, Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 20082011
ICPED, International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, declaration under article 312008
CRPD, Optional Protocol to o the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities2008
CEDAW, Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 19992007
ICERD, declaration under article 14 of the Convention2007
CAT, declaration under article 22 of the Convention1986
ICCPR, First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 19661986
Ratio of complaints procedures accepted Show sources
NumberObservation Date
8/9
8/9
Relevant recommendations issued by treaty bodies Show sources
NameRecommendation ExcerptRecommendation Year
Committee against Torture34. The State party should: (a) Ensure that no one may be expelled, returned or extradited to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he or she could face a personal and foreseeable risk of being subjected to torture, and refrain from accepting diplomatic assurance with regard to such persons; (b) Repeal or amend the provisions of the Decree of Necessity and Emergency No. 70/2017 in order to ensure that persons subject to expulsion may be granted enough time to challenge the decision at the administrative or judicial level and be given access to immediate free legal aid to appear before any court during the expulsion process; (c) Ensure that migration legislation and regulations allow for detention for migration-related reasons only as a measure of last resort, after less invasive alternative measures have been duly considered and exhausted, where it has been deemed necessary and proportionate and for as short a period as possible. The State party should also establish effective judicial oversight of orders for the detention of persons for migration-related reasons.2017
Committee against Torture34. The State party should: (a) Ensure that no one may be expelled, returned or extradited to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he or she could face a personal and foreseeable risk of being subjected to torture, and refrain from accepting diplomatic assurance with regard to such persons; (b) Repeal or amend the provisions of the Decree of Necessity and Emergency No. 70/2017 in order to ensure that persons subject to expulsion may be granted enough time to challenge the decision at the administrative or judicial level and be given access to immediate free legal aid to appear before any court during the expulsion process; (c) Ensure that migration legislation and regulations allow for detention for migration-related reasons only as a measure of last resort, after less invasive alternative measures have been duly considered and exhausted, where it has been deemed necessary and proportionate and for as short a period as possible. The State party should also establish effective judicial oversight of orders for the detention of persons for migration-related reasons.2017
Committee against Torture36. The State party should: (a) Issue clear instructions to the security forces at both federal and provincial level to observe the prohibition of discrimination against persons in detention and respect the dignity of such persons when they are subjected to a body search, in cases where such a search is strictly necessary and where there is no alternative; (b) Ensure that all cases of arbitrary detention, violence towards and ill-treatment of persons because of their foreign origin, sexual orientation or gender identity are investigated, with a view to prosecuting and punishing the perpetrators of such acts and suspending the officials involved; and (c) Ensure the adoption of policies and programmes specifically aimed at the integration and protection of persons detained on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, at both federal and provincial level, and ensure full compliance with the Gender Identity Act No 26743.2017
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination26. The Committee urges the State party to: [...] (c) Ensure effective access to justice and respect for fundamental rights and due process guarantees in proceedings against human rights defenders, members of indigenous communities, people of African descent and migrants, including the proceedings concerning Milagro Sala and Félix Díaz. In the case of Milagro Sala, the Committee invites the State party to implement the measures requested by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (A/HRC/WGAD/2016/31, para. 117).2017
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination34. Taking into account its general recommendation No. 30 (2004) on discrimination against non-citizens, the Committee recommends that the State party take the necessary action to ensure the protection of migrants, including by: (a) Implementing measures that promote the full participation and integration of migrants into the State party and respect for their rights; and ensuring that no practices or provisions are introduced that represent a backward step compared with the regulatory framework in force; (b) Considering the use of alternatives to the deprivation of liberty for migrants in an irregular situation and ensuring that detention is used only as a last resort and that it is reasonable, necessary and proportionate and is kept as short as possible.2017

Regional legal instruments Show sources
NameYear of Ratification (Treaty) / Transposed (Directive) / Adoption (Regulation)
IACPPT, Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture1988
ACHR, American Convention on Human Rights1984
APACHR, Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights2003
CBDP, Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women (Convention of Belem do Para)1996
IACFDP, Inter-American convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons1995
Regional treaty reservations Show sources
NameReservation Year
ACHR Article 51984
ACHR Article 71984
ACHR Article 101984

Visits by special procedures of the Human Rights Council Show sources
NameYear of VisitObservation Date
Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief20002015
Working Group on arbitrary detention20032015
Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children20102015
Relevant recommendations by UN Special Procedures Show sources
NameRecommendation ExcerptRecommendation YearObservation Date
Working Group on arbitrary detention§69. As far as possible, efforts should be made to avoid holding children or foreigners detained under the immigration laws in police stations. §75. An effective judicial remedy should be provided for administrative orders for the detention of foreigners with a view to their expulsion from the country. Any person detained for reasons related to immigration should have an opportunity to request a court to rule on the legality of his or her detention before the expulsion order is enforced. The current practice of detaining foreigners for reasons related to immigration together with individuals charged with ordinary offences should be halted. 20032003
Relevant recommendations of the UN Universal Periodic Review Show sources
Recomendation IssuedYear IssuedObservation Date
No20082017
No2012

Institutions Expand all

Federal or centralized governing system
Federal or centralized governing systemObservation Date
Federal system2015

Custodial authority Show sources
AgencyMinistryMinistry TypologyObservation Date
Dirección Nacional de MigracionesImmigration or Citizenship2015
Policía de Seguridad AeroportuariaInternal or Public Security2014
Detention Facility Management Show sources
Entity NameEntity TypeObservation Date
Servicio Penitenciario Federal Governmental2015
Policía de Seguridad AeroportuariaGovernmental2014
Types of detention facilities used in practice
Immigration detention centre (Administrative)Immigration field office (Administrative)Transit centre (Administrative)Reception centre (Administrative)Offshore detention centre (Administrative)Hospital (Administrative)Border guard (Administrative)Police station (Criminal)National penitentiary (Criminal)Local prison (Criminal)Juvenile detention centre (Criminal)Informal camp (Ad hoc)Immigration detention centre (Ad hoc)Surge facility (Ad hoc)Observation Date
YesYes2015

Authorized monitoring institutions Show sources
InstitutionInstitution TypeObservation Date
Procuración Penitenciaria de la NaciónParliamentary (Congressional) Organs2014

Socio Economic Data Expand all

Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD) Show sources
Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD)Observation Date
12,5092014
14,7602013
Remittances to the country Show sources
Remittances to the country (in millions USD)Observation Date
540,4002014
6882011
Remittances from the country Show sources
Remittances from the country (in millions USD)Observation Date
1,0332010
Unemployment Rate Show sources
Unemployment RateObservation Date
8.22014
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in millions USD) Show sources
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in USD)Observation Date
49.22014
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP) Show sources
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)UNDP four-tiered rankingObservation Date
49Very high2014
40Very high2014

Pew Global Attitudes Poll on Immigration Show sources
% who agree with the statement “We should restrict and control entry of people into our country more than we do now.”Observation Date
682007

Additional Resources


Immigration Detention through the Lens of International Human Rights: Lessons from South America – Global Detention Project Working Paper No. 23

Why hasn’t South America witnessed the same growth in immigration detention regimes that has occurred in the rest of the world? This Global Detention Project Working Paper discusses developments across the region through the lens of international human rights standards.

Submission to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR): Argentina

EXAMEN PERIÓDICO UNIVERSAL – 3º CICLO APORTE AL EXAMEN DE ARGENTINA Derechos de las personas migrantes Estimados y estimadas: Nos dirigimos a Uds. en representación de Abogados y Abogadas del Noroeste Argentino en Derechos Humanos y Estudios Sociales (ANDHES)[1]; el Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)[2]; el Colectivo para La Diversidad (COPADI)[3]; la Comisión […]

Submission to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR): Argentina

  ARGENTINA Universal Period Review – 3rd Cycle   Submission to the Universal Periodic Review by the Global Detention Project (Geneva, Switzerland) 28th Session of the UPR Working Group, October-November 2017   Submitted on 30 March 2017   The Global Detention Project (GDP) is an independent research centre based in Geneva, Switzerland, that investigates the […]

Immigration Detention in Argentina

Argentina rarely applies immigration detention measures and the length of detention tends to be very short. In 2015, it adopted regulations aimed at establishing specific immigration detention procedures. There are recent cases of people being detained for long periods in inadequate conditions and new government initiatives seek to boost deportation numbers.

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