Arbitrary detention - an introduction
Arbitrary detention is deprivation of liberty contrary to human rights provisions of the major international human rights instruments. Specific examples of arbitrary detention are:
deprivation of liberty for which there is no legal basis;
deprivation of liberty for exercising rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Intl. Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
deprivation of liberty following a trial not complying with fair trial standards as set out in the Universal Declaration and other relevant instruments.
Below are select introductory materials on business and arbitrary detention. Further reports from a wide range of sources are in the “Arbitrary detention" section of our site.
Key international standards
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights: articles 3, 9 and 13
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: articles 9 and 12
- Human Rights Committee: General Comment 8
Key reports & guidance
Human Rights Translated: A Business Reference Guide, OHCHR, IBLF, UN Global Compact & Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Faculty of Law, Monash University, Dec 2008 (scroll down to page 21, “Article 9: Rights to Liberty and Security of Person”).
Concerns, company responses & non-responses
Below we give examples of concerns regarding companies and arbitrary detention. In cases where the Resource Centre has invited companies to respond to allegations of misconduct, we indicate whether the company has responded.
Argentina: Ledesma accused of complicity with detention, torture & “disappearance” of over 400 people by dictatorship’s security forces in 1976, Jul 2006. Ledesma response. [Spanish only]
Burma: EarthRights report alleging abuses, including arbitrary arrest, detention and torture, involving Chinese, Korean, Indian oil firms, Mar 2011. Daewoo Intl, KOGAS responses; CNPC, GAIL, MOGE and ONGC Videsh did not respond.
International: Documents in court case in USA reportedly “illustrate in minute detail” how Richmor, Sportsflight & DynCorp (owned by CSC) assisted the US Govt. with its rendition programme, Aug 2011. Responses from CSC, DynCorp & Sportsflight; Richmor comments included in article.
Positive steps by companies
Lawsuits regarding arbitrary detention
Related stories and components
Author: Associated Press
A developer at the center of one of the biggest judicial scandals in U.S. history has agreed to pay more than $17 million to settle a civil lawsuit filed by juveniles who were locked up in youth detention facilities built by his company. The settlement...
Huawei Technologies Co., China’s largest maker of phone equipment, said it will voluntarily restrict business in Iran because of the “increasingly complex situation” there... [also refers to MTN Irancell]
- Related stories: Huawei Technologies will "voluntarily restrict its business development" in Iran following reports that police used technology to trace & arrest dissidents
- Related in-depth areas: Arbitrary detention - an introduction
- Related companies: Huawei Technologies
Author: Ian Cobain & Ben Quinn, Guardian [UK]
The scale of the CIA's rendition programme has been laid bare in court documents that illustrate…how the US contracted out the secret transportation of suspects to a network of private American companies…The…case concerns Sportsflight, an aircraft...
- Related stories: Documents in court case in USA "illustrate in minute detail" how Richmor, Sportsflight & Dyncorp assisted the US Govt. with its rendition programme, says Guardian article
- Related in-depth areas: Abduction - an introduction Apple 2012 supplier report Arbitrary detention - an introduction Latest Legal News Quarterly Bulletin on Business and Children
- Related companies: DynCorp
Author: Marie Trigona, Centre for International Policy
In August, Kraft fired 160 workers after they went on strike to demand proper health measures at the company's factory in suburban Buenos Aires during the swine flu epidemic in Argentina... almost all of the factory's union delegates were fired…Kraft...
- Related stories: Argentina: Kraft faces protests from workers alleging anti-union practices, intimidation, detention, violence
- Related in-depth areas: Arbitrary detention - an introduction Complicity - an introduction
- Related companies: Kraft Foods (now Kraft Heinz)
Author: OHCHR, IBLF, UN Global Compact & Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Faculty of Law, Monash University [Australia]
Readers are guided through each of the rights contained in the UN treaties...and given a description of what each right means in general terms and how it may be relevant to a company’s activities...To bring reality to the report, each description of a...
- Related stories: Coca-Cola lawsuit (re Colombia) Freeport-McMoRan lawsuits (re West Papua) New practical human rights guide for business by UN Global Compact, IBLF, Castan Centre, OHCHR Shell lawsuit (re Nigeria - Kiobel & Wiwa) Union Carbide/Dow lawsuit (re Bhopal) Yahoo! lawsuit (re China) Show moreShow less
- Related in-depth areas: Arbitrary detention - an introduction Health - an introduction Killings - an introduction Latest Legal News
- Related companies: Abengoa adidas Aker Kvaerner Alcoa Alibaba.com AOL Barclays Bayer Bayer CropScience (part of Bayer) Bechtel Ben & Jerry's (part of Unilever) BHP Billiton BP British Airways British American Tobacco CACI CBRL Group Chevron Cisco Systems Coca-Cola Compania Internacional de Bebidas y Alimentos S.A. Cracker Barrel (part of CBRL Group) Credit Suisse Dow Chemical Elf Aquitaine (now part of Total) Emergent Genetics (part of Monsanto) Enron EY (Ernst & Young) Freeport Indonesia (part of Freeport-McMoRan) Freeport-McMoRan G4S GlaxoSmithKline Google (part of Alphabet) GSL Australia (now G4S Australia) HP (Hewlett-Packard) IBM IKEA James Hardie Johnson & Johnson KPMG Levi Strauss Marriott McDonald's Microsoft Monsanto (part of Bayer) Novartis Pentland Group Pfizer PricewaterhouseCoopers Shell Starbucks Titan (now L-3 Titan) Total Toyota TPG UBS Unilever Union Carbide (part of Dow) Unocal (part of Chevron) Walmart Walt Disney Yahoo! (part of Verizon)
Author: China Labour Bulletin and Rights & Democracy [Canada]
[The] new report...draws extensively on CLB’s litigation in defence of worker’s rights. The report...explore[s] the many ways in which enterprise restructuring and privatization violated the human rights of laid-off workers; including their systematic...
- Related stories: China: NGO report on alleged human & labour rights violations in the course of privatization of state-owned enterprises
- Related in-depth areas: Arbitrary detention - an introduction
Author: Gonzalo Besteiro, RosarioNet [Argentina]
Hace 30 años se produjo el “Apagón de Ledesma”. Durante la noche del 27 de junio de 1976, en medio de la oscuridad, 400 personas fueron secuestradas y torturadas, con la complicidad del Ingenio azucarero. La lucha por acabar con la impunidad continúa....
- Related stories: Argentina: Alegaciones de complicidad del Ingenio Ledesma con fuerzas de seguridad de la dictadura en 1976
- Related in-depth areas: "Desapariciones" Agricultura Agriculture Arbitrary detention - an introduction Argentina Complicity - an introduction Disappearances - an introduction Torture & ill-treatment - an introduction
- Related companies: DaimlerChrysler (now Daimler) Ford Ledesma Mercedes-Benz (part of Daimler)
Author: Sarah K. Cox, Tyee [Canada]
Martín Barrios Hernández...[was] arrested December 29... Barrios is accused of attempting to blackmail the owner of several factories that assemble clothing for export... Coincidentally, Barrios had been pursuing legal channels to obtain severance pay...
- Related stories: Mexico: Concern that prosecution of anti-sweatshop advocate Martín Barrios is retaliation for campaigns against poor working conditions; Gap urges state govt. to investigate quickly & ensure his safety
- Related in-depth areas: Arbitrary detention - an introduction Torture & ill-treatment - an introduction
- Related companies: Gap Guess Levi Strauss Tommy Hilfiger (part of PVH)