No detention centre mapping data


Thailand Immigration Detention

Thailand hosts more than four million migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees. Officials have broad discretionary powers to place non-citizens in detention and there is no detention time limit. Severe overcrowding is endemic at detention facilities and conditions are reportedly abysmal, including for the thousands of foreign children who are detained annually.

Quick Facts


Detained asylum seekers (2015): 200
Detained minors (2014): 4,000
International migrants (2015): 3,913,300
New asylum applications (2016): 2,585

Profile Updated: February 2016

Thailand Immigration Detention Profile

Thailand is an important destination for migrant workers and asylum seekers from across the Greater Mekong Delta region as well other parts of Asia. Like many of its neighbours, Thailand is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention and does not have a formal asylum framework in place. Asylum seekers and refugees are generally treated as unauthorized immigrants, charged with crimes, and sent to detention centres. Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar are particularly vulnerable to arrest and detention as are Christian asylum seekers from Pakistan.[1]

Thailand hosts approximately four million international migrants, an estimated 1.5 million of whom are undocumented.[2] Approximately 80 percent of the migrants and asylum seekers in the country are from Myanmar while the remaining 20 percent come mainly from Laos and Cambodia. The country has undertaken various regularization and registration operations since the early 2000s within the framework of bilateral labour agreements with Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Nearly 1.6 million irregular migrants (including dependents) were registered during a four-month period in 2014.[3]

Despite these regularization exercises, both documented and undocumented migrant workers and asylum seekers remain at risk of arrest, detention, and deportation, as advocacy groups like the Mekong Migration Network have documented.[4] Migration policies in Thailand often lead to confusion and migrant workers live under the constant threat of deportation.[5] This is due to several factors, including dependency on a single employer, costly and complicated bureaucratic procedures, restrictions on freedom movement, as well as police corruption and collusion with traffickers.[6]

Some 110,000 Myanmar refugees have been allowed to stay in nine camps on the Thai-Myanmar border by executive discretion. There is also an unverified number of refugees and asylum seekers from dozens of other countries, who reside outside camps.[7] There are often long delays in processing asylum claims, which for those living outside official refugee camps can mean extended periods in immigration detention while awaiting resettlement.[8]

Thailand’s treatment of Rohingyas has been widely condemned. In 2013, after the Myanmar government refused to accept Rohingyas being deported from Thailand, journalists uncovered a secret Thai Royal Police policy called “option two,” which was reportedly designed “to remove Rohingya refugees from Thailand's immigration detention centres and deliver them to human traffickers waiting at sea.”[9] Reporters interviewed Rohingyas who had been sold to human traffickers by immigration officials and quoted official sources who said that of the two thousand Rohingyas held in Thai detention centres as of early October 2013 only 154 Rohingyas remained in detention some two months later.[10] Since these initial reports were published there have numerous reports by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and others documenting mass graves at camps run by migrant traffickers in Thailand.[11]

More recently, in early 2016, there were numerous reports concering the mistreatment of Christian asylum seekers from Pakistan. A January 2016 article in the Christian Post reported that a 30-year-old Pakistiani Christian woman died in Thai police custody on "Christmas Eve after she was arrested and prevented from taking much needed medications." The article cited a British Pakistani Christian Association that claimed Thai authorities had launched "a crackdown against Pakistani Christians who've overstayed their visas in Thailand." A February 2016 BBC report stated that those arrested in the raids were being charged with "illegal immigration, fined 4,000 Baht (£90), and then sent to Bangkok's Immigration Detention Centre."

The Immigration Act, B.E. 2522 (1979), provides police officers and immigration officials broad discretionary powers to detain foreigners. The law does not set a maximum length of time that a person can remain in administrative immigration detention.

The Immigration Act also criminalizes unauthorized stay, which is punishable by up to two years imprisonment. The Ministry of Justice’s Department of Corrections is responsible for monitoring prison and detention facility conditions, however its mandate does not include administrative detainees. The Immigration Police Bureau of the Royal Thai Police administers the country’s approximately 15 dedicated immigration detention centres (IDCs), which are spread out across Thailand’s land borders and along the Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand.[12] The detention centres are not subject to many of the regulations that govern the regular prison system. As a result, both the procedures and conditions of immigration detention can vary greatly.[13]

The costs of deportation are to be covered by the person being deported, a policy that the Global Detention Project has found common in other countries as well (for example, in Lebanon and Egypt). In addition, as in Australia,[14] immigration detainees in Thailand have to pay for the cost of detention, leading to an increased likelihood of lengthy or indefinite detention.[15] Human rights groups have emphasized that this is a discriminatory practice that contravenes international human rights norms and standards.[16]

Although there are no official statistics on the numbers of people placed in immigration detention, human rights groups have attempted to document the prevalence of certain practices, like the detention of children. According to HRW, “approximately 100 children per year are detained on a long-term basis (that is, for a period of longer than one month). Meanwhile, at least 4,000 children are thought to move through the immigration detention system each year for shorter periods (days or weeks).”[17]

In 2012, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child reminded Thailand that children should only be deprived of liberty as a last resort and for as short a time as possible. The committee also underscored that when children are detained they must be confined separately from adults and in “a safe, child sensitive environment” that enables regular contact with their families.” The committee urged Thailand to “Promote alternative measures to detention such as diversion, probation, counselling, community service or suspended sentences, wherever possible.”[18]

According to a 2014 Amnesty International report, official regulations in Thailand allow for cell sizes in detention centres to be a minimum of 1.19 metres per person,  “which does not allow detainees to lie down to sleep.”[19] HRW has also reported on the abysmal conditions in detention centres, “including severe overcrowding, putrid sanitation, and an atmosphere of violence.” Detainees have repeatedly complained of overcrowding and extremely poor hygiene. In 2013, journalists found 276 male Rohingyas detained in two small “cages” meant to hold no more than 15 people at the Phang Nga detention centre on the coast of the Strait of Malacca.[20] At the time, Thai authorities acknowledged that they were “aware of the overcrowding issue at the existing immigration facilities” and that alternative arrangements were being made. According to the journalists, the head of Thailand’s parliamentary Border Affairs Committee commented that “The conditions you have seen would even be difficult for animals.”

International agencies and organisations have been given access to immigration detention centres (IDCs), including the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), which carried out “The first immunization programme for Myanmar Muslims from Rakhine State and Bangladeshis in all IDCs and Shelters” in October 2015. According to an IOM report, “Myanmar Muslims from Rakhine State in Phang-Nga IDC conducted two series of hunger strikes to express their frustration at their period of detention.”[21] Human Rights Watch has asked IOM to provide more reports immigration detention in Thailand and urged UNHCR officials to “intervene promptly to seek the immediate release of refugees and asylum seekers when they are arrested.”[22]

 

[1] United Nations High Commissionner for Refugees. 2015 UNHCR country operations profile – Thailand. http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49e489646.html; BBC, "The Christians held in Thailand after fleeing Pakistan," 26 February 2016, http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35654804. 

[2] Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, United Nations, International Migration 2015 Wallchart, http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/publications/migration/migration-wallchart-2013.shtml, United Nations, 20135.

[3] International Labour Organization (ILO). Review of the effectiveness of the MOUs in managing labour migration between Thailand and neighbouring countries. Tripartite Action to Protect the Rights of Migrant Workers within and from the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS TRIANGLE project). Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. 2015. http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---asia/---ro-bangkok/documents/publication/wcms_356542.pdf

[4] Mekong Migration Network, Website, "Arrest, Detention, and Deportation," http://www.mekongmigration.org/?page_id=126.

[5] International Labour Organization (ILO). Review of the effectiveness of the MOUs in managing labour migration between Thailand and neighbouring countries. Tripartite Action to Protect the Rights of Migrant Workers within and from the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS TRIANGLE project). Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. 2015. http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---asia/---ro-bangkok/documents/publication/wcms_356542.pdf

[6] International Labour Organization (ILO). Review of the effectiveness of the MOUs in managing labour migration between Thailand and neighbouring countries. Tripartite Action to Protect the Rights of Migrant Workers within and from the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS TRIANGLE project). Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. 2015. http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---asia/---ro-bangkok/documents/publication/wcms_356542.pdf

[7] United Nations High Commissionner for Refugees. UNHCR's new biometrics system helps verify 110,000 Myanmar refugees in Thailand. 30 June 2015. http://www.unhcr.org/55926d646.html

[8] United Nations High Commissionner for Refugees. 2015 UNHCR country operations profile – Thailand. http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49e489646.html

[9] Jason Szep and Andrew R.C. Marshall. Special Report - Thailand secretly dumps Myanmar refugees into trafficking rings. Reuters. 5 December 2013. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/12/05/uk-thailand-rohingya-special-report-idUKBRE9B400920131205

[10] Jason Szep and Andrew R.C. Marshall. Special Report - Thailand secretly dumps Myanmar refugees into trafficking rings. Reuters. 5 December 2013. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/12/05/uk-thailand-rohingya-special-report-idUKBRE9B400920131205

[11] Human Rights Watch, “Thailand: Mass Graves of Rohingya Found in Trafficking Camp,” 1 May 2015, https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/05/01/thailand-mass-graves-rohingya-found-trafficking-camp.

[12] Mekong Migration Network. Arrest, Detention and Deportation. Map of IDCs. 2012. http://mekongmigration.org/add/?page_id=33

[13] United States Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014. http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/#wrapper

[14] Beyderwellen & Company. Removal from Australia. http://www.beyderwellen.com/immigration-practice-areas/unlawful.htm

[15] Immigration Act, B.E. 2522 (enacted on 24 February 1979, amended in 1992) Sections 54 and 55. Thailand Law Forum. http://www.thailawforum.com/database1/immigration-law-mejesty.html

[16] Human Rights Watch. Two Years With No Moon Immigration Detention of Children in Thailand. 1 September 2014. https://www.hrw.org/report/2014/09/01/two-years-no-moon/immigration-detention-children-thailand

[17] Human Rights Watch. Two Years With No Moon Immigration Detention of Children in Thailand. 1 September 2014. https://www.hrw.org/report/2014/09/01/two-years-no-moon/immigration-detention-children-thailand

[18] Committee on the Rights of the Child. Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 44 of the Convention. Concluding observations: Thailand. CRC/C/THA/CO/3-4. 17 February 2012. http://uhri.ohchr.org/document/index/976dcd33-b7f5-4d94-b473-cb4c07d99275

[19] Amnesty International, “Thailand: submission to the United Nations Committee against Torture,” 52nd Session, 28 April – 23 may 2014, ASA 39/003/2014.

[20] Sparks, John. The plight of Burma's Rohingya Muslims in a Thai Camp. World News Blog. Channel 4. 31 May 2013. http://blogs.channel4.com/world-news-blog/the-plight-of-burmas-rohingya-muslims-in-a-thai-camp/24226

[21] International Organisation for Migration, “Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea Crisis - Situation Report October 2015.”

[22] Human Rights Watch. Two Years With No Moon Immigration Detention of Children in Thailand. 1 September 2014. https://www.hrw.org/report/2014/09/01/two-years-no-moon/immigration-detention-children-thailand

Centres List

No detention centres data available

Statistics Expand all



200

Number of detained asylum seekers

2015

  • Number of detained asylum seekers
NumberObservation Date
2002015


4,000

Total number of detained minors

2014

  • Total number of detained minors
NumberObservation Date
4,0002014


14

Number of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres

2012

  • Number of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
NumberObservation Date
142012


291,794

Criminal prison population

2017

  • Criminal prison population
NumberObservation Date
291,7942017
296,5772014
200,2802010
168,6562007
167,1422004
250,9032001
164,4511998
111,0281995
73,3091992


4.6

Percentage of foreign prisoners

2016

  • Percentage of foreign prisoners
PercentageObservation Date
4.62016


431

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

2017

  • Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)
NumberObservation Date
4312017
2902010
2492007
2532004
3932001
2671998
1861995
1261992



67,401,000

Population

2014

  • Population
NumberObservation Date
67,401,0002014


3,913,300

International migrants

2015

  • International migrants
NumberObservation Date
3,913,3002015
4,000,0002014
3,721,7002013


5.8

International migrants as a percentage of the population

2015

  • International migrants as a percentage of the population
PercentageObservation Date
5.82015
5.62013


1,400,000 - 1,500,000

Estimated number of undocumented migrants

2014

  • Estimated number of undocumented migrants
NumberObservation Date
1,400,000 - 1,500,0002014


106,426

Refugees

2016

  • Refugees
NumberObservation Date
106,4262016
110,3722015
136,4992014
130,3282014
84,4792012


1.27

Ratio of refugees per 1000 inhabitants

2014

  • Ratio of refugees per 1000 inhabitants
NumberObservation Date
1.272014
1.922014
1.32011


2,585

Total number of new asylum applications

2016

  • Total number of new asylum applications
NumberObservation Date
2,5852016
3,1092012
12,9582011


66.4

Refugee recognition rate

2014

  • Refugee recognition rate
NumberObservation Date
66.42014


487,741

Stateless persons

2016

  • Stateless persons
NumberObservation Date
487,7412016
506,1972014
506,1972012

Domestic Law Expand all

Legal tradition Show sources
NameObservation Date
Civil law

Constitutional guarantees? Show sources
NameConstitution and ArticlesYear AdoptedLast Year Amended
Constitution of the Kingdom of Thailand (Interim), Buddhist Era 2557 (2014) assented to by King Bhumibol Adulyadej in June 2014. To be submitted to a referendum in 2015.20142014
Core pieces of national legislation Show sources
NameYear AdoptedLast Year Amended
Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, B. E. 2551 (2008)20082008
Immigration Act, B.E. 2522 (1979)19791979
Additional legislation Show sources
NameYear AdoptedLast Year Amended
Criminal Procedure Code of Thailand B.E. 2477 - 19342008
Regulations, standards, guidelines Show sources
NameYear Published
Immigration Order 148/2553 (18 August 2010) on Standards in Immigration Detention Centres 2010
Immigration Order 21/2545 on Regulations and Measures Regarding the Receiving and Detention of an Alleged Offender or a Detainee

Immigration-status-related grounds Show sources
NameObservation Date
Detention to prevent unauthorised entry at the border2015
Detention to effect removal2015
Detention for unauthorised entry or stay2015

Does the country provide specific criminal penalties for immigration-related violations? Show sources
FinesIncarcerationObservation Date
YesYes2015
Grounds for criminal immigration-related detention/incarceration and maximum potential duration of incarceration Show sources
Grounds for IncarcerationMaximum Number of Days of IncarcerationObservation Date
Unauthorised stay7302015

Maximum length for administrative immigration detention in law. Show sources
Number of DaysObservation Date
No Limit2015
Longest recorded instance of immigration detention. Show sources
Number of DaysObservation Date
43802014
Maximum length of time in custody prior to issuance of a detention order Show sources
Number of DaysObservation Date
72015
Maximum length of detention for asylum-seekers Show sources
Number of DaysObservation Date
No Limit2013

Provision of basic procedural standards Show sources
NameIn LawIn PracticeObservation Date
Access to asylum proceduresNo2015
Information to detaineesYes2013
Access to consular assistanceYesNo2013
Independent review of detentionNoNo2013
Complaints mechanism regarding detention conditionsYes2013
Access to free interpretation servicesNoNo2013

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

Is the detention of vulnerable persons provided in law? Are they detained in practice? Show sources
NameIn LawIn PracticeObservation Date
Victims of traffickingProvided2015
Asylum seekersNot mentionedYes2015
RefugeesNot mentionedYes2015
Accompanied minorsProvidedYes2014
Unaccompanied minorsProvidedYes2014
Stateless personsNot mentionedYes2014

International Law Expand all

Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
  9/19
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, 20112012
CEDAW, Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 19992000
Ratio of complaints procedures accepted
NumberObservation Date
2/7
2/7
Relevant recommendations issued by treaty bodies Show sources
NameRecommendation ExcerptRecommendation Year
Human Rights Committee§ 30. The State party should: (a) Refrain from detaining refugees, asylum seekers and migrants and implement alternatives to detention, including before deportation. In cases where the individual is detained, the State party should ensure that the detention is based on individual circumstances that are reasonable, necessary and proportionate, and that the cases are reassessed over time. There should also be effective access to judicial review; (b) Ensure that children are not deprived of liberty except as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time, taking into account their best interests as a primary concern, and that they are segregated from adult detainees who are not their family members; (c) Ensure that the living conditions in immigration detention centres are in compliance with the Covenant.2016
Committee on the Rights of the Child§71"the Committee recommends that the State party treat the asylum-seekers and refugees according to their status and do not subject them to detention or deportations to a country where their lives might be in danger. In this regard, the Committee encourages the State party to seek technical assistance from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The Committee also recommends that the State party ratify the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol and establish a national legal and institutional framework for protection of refugees." § 80 [...] (a) Raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to an internationally acceptable age and in no circumstances below the age of 12 years; (b) Ensure that children deprived of liberty are held in detention only as a last resort and for as short a time as possible and that their detention is carried out in compliance with the law; (c) Ensure that children are detained separately from adults as recommended by the Working Group under the universal periodic review, that they have a safe, child sensitive environment and that they maintain regular contact with their families; (d)Promote alternative measures to detention such as diversion, probation, counselling, community service or suspended sentences, wherever possible;" 2012

Regional legal instruments
NameYear of Ratification (Treaty) / Transposed (Directive) / Adoption (Regulation)
ASEAN CATPWC Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children2016

Bilateral/multilateral agreements linked to readmission Show sources
NameYear in ForceObservation Date
Myanmar20092009
Cambodia20032003

Visits by special procedures of the Human Rights Council Show sources
NameYear of VisitObservation Date
Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children20112012
Relevant recommendations by UN Special Procedures Show sources
NameRecommendation ExcerptRecommendation YearObservation Date
Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children"72. [...] corruption in law enforcement, particularly at the provincial and local levels, is deep rooted and has diluted the efficacy of Government policies and programmes in combating human trafficking. As a result, many trafficked persons are not properly identified, leading to cases of wanton arrest, detention and deportation throughout the country [...] §74 [---] The Special Rapporteur has serious concerns that the stay in the shelters amounts to detention and, in addition to infringing fundamental human rights relating to freedom of movement and protection from arbitrary detention, presents a risk to the well-being of trafficked persons [...] §77(p) "ensure that raids and rescue operations are victim-centred and do not cause any discriminatory impact on victims and those who are not victims of trafficking. upon being rescued, trafficked persons should be provided with information about their rights and appropriate counsel ling in a language they understand. further more , in accordance with the a nti-trafficking in persons act, victims should not be criminalized or penalized, including through detention for status-related offences such as violations of immigration laws and other crimes that directly result from their situations as trafficked persons ;20122012
Relevant recommendations of the UN Universal Periodic Review Show sources
Recomendation IssuedYear IssuedObservation Date
Yes20162017
Yes2011

Institutions Expand all

Federal or centralized governing system Show sources
Federal or centralized governing systemObservation Date
Centralized system2015
Centralized or decentralized immigration authority Show sources
Centralized or decentralized immigration authorityObservation Date
Centralized immigration authority2015

Custodial authority Show sources
AgencyMinistryMinistry TypologyObservation Date
"Competent Officials" including from Immigration Bureau, Royal Thai Police and National Security OfficialsMinistry of InteriorInterior or Home Affairs2015
The Immigration Bureau of the Royal Thai PoliceInterior MinistryInterior or Home Affairs2014
Immigration Bureau of the Royal Thai PoliceInterior MinistryInterior or Home Affairs2014
The Immigration Bureau of the Royal Thai PoliceInterior MinistryInterior or Home Affairs2013
"Competent Officials" including from Immigration Bureau, Royal Thai Police and National Security OfficialsInterior MinistryInterior or Home Affairs2013
Immigration Bureau of the Royal Thai PoliceInterior MinistryInterior or Home Affairs2013
The Immigration Bureau of the Royal Thai PoliceInterior MinistryInterior or Home Affairs2012
Immigration BureauMinistry of InteriorInterior or Home Affairs2007
Immigration BureauMinistry of InteriorInterior or Home Affairs2006
Immigration BureauMinistry of InteriorInterior or Home Affairs2005
Immigration BureauMinistry of InteriorInterior or Home Affairs2004
Detention Facility Management Show sources
Entity NameEntity TypeObservation Date
Immigration Bureau, reporting to Royal Thai PoliceGovernmental2013
Sub-Division 3, Investigation Division Immigration BureauGovernmental2013
Sub-Division 3, Investigation Division Immigration BureauGovernmental2012
Ministry of Interior/Immigration Police BureauGovernmental2007
Ministry of Interior/Immigration Police BureauGovernmental2006
Ministry of Interior/Immigration Police BureauGovernmental2005
Ministry of Interior/Immigration Police BureauGovernmental2004
Ministry of Interior / Immigration Police BureauGovernmental2004

Authorized monitoring institutions Show sources
InstitutionInstitution TypeObservation Date
UNHCRInternational or Regional Bodies (IRBs)2015
Jesuit Refugee Service ThailandNon-Governmental Organizations (NGO)2015
Do NGOs carry out visits? Show sources
Do NGOs regularly carry our visits?Observation Date
Yes2015

Socio Economic Data Expand all

Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD) Show sources
Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD)Observation Date
5,9772014
5,7792013
5,4802012
Remittances to the country Show sources
Remittances to the country (in millions USD)Observation Date
5,6552014
3,9942011
Remittances from the country Show sources
Remittances from the country (in millions USD)Observation Date
2,3972010
Unemployment Rate Show sources
Unemployment RateObservation Date
0.92014
1.22009
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in millions USD) Show sources
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in USD)Observation Date
351.22014
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP) Show sources
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)UNDP four-tiered rankingObservation Date
93High2015
89High2014
103Medium2012

World Bank Rule of Law Index Show sources
Percentile rank among all countries (ranges from 0 (lowest) to 100 (highest) rank)Estimate of governance (ranges from approximately -2.5 (weak) to 2.5 (strong) )Observation Date
50-0.72012
49-1.12011
49-0.72010

Additional Resources


Kidnapped, Trafficked, Detained? The Implications of Non-state Actor Involvement in Immigration Detention

This article critically assesses a range of new non-state actors who have become involved in the deprivation of liberty of migrants and asylum seekers, describes the various forces that appear to be driving their engagement, and makes a series of recommendations concerning the role of non-state actors and detention in global efforts to manage international migration.

Submission to the Human Rights Committee: Thailand

Global Detention Project Submission to the UN Human Rights Committee (CCPR) 117th Session (20 June – 15 July 2016) Country Report Task Force for the adoption of the list of issues – Thailand Geneva, 7 April 2016   The Global Detention Project (GDP) welcomes the opportunity to provide information for the Committee Country Report Task […]

Immigration Detention in Thailand

Thailand hosts more than four million migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees. Officials have broad discretionary powers to place non-citizens in detention and there is no detention time limit. Severe overcrowding is endemic at detention facilities and conditions are reportedly abysmal, including for the thousands of foreign children who are detained annually.

There and Back Again: On the Diffusion of Immigration Detention

From Mexico to the Bahamas, Mauritania to Lebanon, Turkey to Saudi Arabia, South Africa to Indonesia, Malaysia to Thailand, immigration-related detention has become an established policy apparatus that counts on dedicated facilities and burgeoning institutional bureaucracies. Until relatively recently, however, detention appears to have been largely an ad hoc tool, employed mainly by wealthy states in exigent circumstances. This paper uses concepts from diffusion theory to detail the history of key policy events in several important immigration destination countries that led to the spreading of detention practices during the last 30 years and assesses some of the motives that appear to have encouraged this phenomenon.

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