Fundamentals of Immigration Detention

Detention is a deprivation of liberty and often entails extreme hardship for individuals. Yet the use of immigration detention as a migration management tool has become a standard rather than an exception in many countries. This free course from UNHCR outlines the rules around detention, safeguards provided in international law, the actors involved, and standards of treatment for persons in situations of vulnerability.

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Online Course • 3 Hours • English, Arabic, French, Spanish • Free

What You Will Learn

Learn why detention in the immigration context must only be used for exceptions and the importance of complying with safeguards provided in international law.


  • Explain why immigration detention is a concern

  • Identify the procedural safeguards that relate to detention

  • Identify the existing standards on the conditions of detention

  • Describe the standards for vulnerable persons related to detention, in particular children

  • State the roles of the key actors related to detention settings

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This course was developed within the project ‘Global technical assistance and capacity building programme to prevent detention of children and to protect children and other asylum-seekers in detention’, co-funded by the European Union. The project is implemented under the umbrella of the UNHCR’s ‘Global Strategy Beyond Detention (2014–2019)’, which aims to support governments to end the detention of asylum-seekers and refugees.

Learner Review

"This course has emphasized and focused the humanitarian aspect of immigrants and asylum seekers for me. It brings awareness to the humane treatment of others and that other people just like you have rights, needs, and are just human."

Aubry H.

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