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Global Detention Project

Stop the arbitrary detention of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.

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Thousands of men, women, and children are locked up every day just because they fled their countries, were trafficked overseas, or sought better lives abroad. Hidden from scrutiny, they face inhumane conditions and grave abuses. Some people die in detention, others simply disappear, and others lose hope of ever being freed—even though they are not charged with crimes.

Donate to the Global Detention Project today to:

  • End arbitrary and indefinite migration-related detention.
  • Ensure that children and other at-risk people are never detained.
  • Expose harmful detention practices.
  • Demand justice for those unjustly detained.
  • Promote the respect and dignity of all non-citizens.


We work to ensure that countries reveal how many people they detain, in what conditions, and why, which is essential information for making meaningful calls for reforms. We have successfully encouraged many countries to release data, including an early FOIA request in the US, which led to our publishing the first comprehensive map of US detention sites , featuring a staggering 900+ facilities. Recently, the EU's statistical office—Eurostat—announced that it would begin collecting data on member states' immigration detention statistics, which marked a milestone in efforts to promote transparency in EU deportation practices. The GDP played a leading role in helping make this happen, undertaking ground-breaking investigations like "The Uncounted," repeatedly lobbying the agency to collect and publicise better migration enforcement data, and publishing major academic studies on the implications of the growth of unaccounted detention regimes across the region.

"The Global Detention Project persistently unearths and publicises information about immigration detention systems so that we can build better informed societies that embrace the human rights of all migrants." Salva Lacruz (Fray Matias de Cordova Human Rights Centre, Mexico)

We have been a leading voice highlighting the enduring harm that immigration detention has on children and have regularly provided advice on how refugee and migrant children should be treated. When officials in Geneva began seeking non-detention methods for minors in custody, they came to us looking for examples of how other countries do this. When the Swiss NGO Terres des Homme sought data to advocate an end to Switzerland's child detention policies at the Swiss Parliament, they came to the GDP to build the evidence for their case. Our advice and input has informed numerous global studies and reports, including those produced by the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the UN-mandated Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty .

"It is not easy for the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) to reach out to organisations working on the ground and the Global Detention project has been an important partner in providing a bridge. But it has been more than that: The GDP has also played an important role in assisting the WGAD to spread the message that arbitrary detention occurs outside the criminal justice context." Elina Steinerte (Former Chair, UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention)

The World Health Organisation acknowledges that immigration detention is inherently damaging to people's health, a conclusion it was able to draw in part on the basis of GDP studies and data. In 2022, the WHO asked the GDP to undertake a global evidence of review on health indicators and outcomes in immigration detention settings as part of its series, Global Evidence Review on Health and Migration. Our systematic review of evidence, which builds on our multi-year reporting initiative on COVID-19 in detention, has pointed to several daunting lessons, including the apparent lack of willingness by many states to implement sustainable reforms in their health provision for detained refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants, and the devastating impact this is having on people across the globe.

"The Global Detention Project is a strong advocacy organisation that promotes the human rights of detained migrants and contributes to global debates on relevant standards and policies that govern migration." Felipe González Morales (UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants)

We strive to ensure that UN human rights agencies are alerted to urgent and unfolding situations involving detained asylum seekers and refugees so that they can take immediate action to address violations and ensure that states fulfil their protection obligations. Recently, we helped mobilise UN action on the plight of refugees and migrants stuck in Ukrainian detention centres amidst Russia's bombardment, the disappearances of Eritrean refugees in Egypt, and abuses of migrants trapped in border areas between Belarus and neighbouring countries.

The Global Detention Project (GDP) is committed to ending arbitrary and harmful migration-related detention practices around the world, and to ensuring respect for the fundamental human rights of all migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. To achieve this, we seek to:

  • Increase public knowledge and awareness of immigration detention policies.
  • Expand coverage of immigration detention by human rights monitoring bodies and other international agencies.
  • Expand partnerships with local and international civil society organisations working to end arbitrary and harmful immigration detention practices.
  • Strategically target research and advocacy so that it effectively challenges arbitrary and harmful detention laws and policies.

To learn more about our work, please visit our website: