Indefinite Detention Law & Legal Definition


Indefinite detention is the practice of detaining an arrested person by a national government or law enforcement agency without a trial. It may be made by the home country or by a foreign nation. Indefinite detention is a controversial practice, especially in situations where the detention is by a foreign nation. It is controversial because it seema to violate many national and international laws. It also violates human rights laws.

Indefinite detention is seen mainly in cases of suspected terrorists who are indefinitely detained. The Law Lords, Britain’s highest court, have held that the indefinite detention of foreign terrorism suspects is incompatible with the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights. [Human Rights Watch]

In the U.S., indefinite detention has been used to hold terror suspects. The case relating to the indefinite detention of Jose Padilla is one of the most highly publicized cases of indefinite detention in the U.S.

In the U.S., indefinite detention is a highly controversial matter and is currently under review. Organizations such as International Red Cross and FIDH are of the opinion that U.S. detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay is not based on legal grounds. However, the American Civil Liberties Union is of the view that indefinite detention is permitted pursuant to section 412 of the USA Patriot Act.