Arbitrary Detention of Asylum Seekers and U.S. Commitments under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
The U.S. detention system for asylum seekers lacks necessary safeguards, including access to prompt court review, to prevent detention from being arbitrary within the meaning of Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”). The United States is a leader in the protection of refugees around the world. When the United States falters on its commitments to refugees and human rights at home, it undermines its ability to promote the protection of refugees and persons displaced due to war, conflict and oppression around the world. As the United States undergoes a periodic review of its compliance with the ICCPR by the Human Rights Committee,
Human Rights First urges the U.S. Government to address flaws in the immigration detention system which have led the United States to fall out of compliance with the obligations it assumed when it ratified the ICCPR on June 8, 1992.
This document outlines three areas of U.S. noncompliance with the ICCPR as it relates to the detention of asylum seekers and immigrants, including i) the lack of prompt review by an independent court of the decision to detain; ii) the lack of an individualized determination of the need for detention and the failure to provide periodic review; and iii) detention in jails and jail-like facilities that are not appropriate to an asylum seeker or immigrant’s status as an administrative, not criminal, detainee. For each of these areas of noncompliance, Human Rights First offers a corresponding recommendation that the United States could adopt to bring its laws and policies better in line with its obligations under the ICCPR.