PART II: The Law and Practice of Arbitrary Detention in Context

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This book examines what happens when states and other authorities use detention to abuse their power, deter dissent and maintain social hierarchies. Written by an author with decades of practical experience in the human rights field, the book examines a variety of scenarios where individuals are unlawfully detained in violation of their most basic rights to personal liberty and exposes the many fallacies associated with arbitrary detention. There is something particular about detention that is arbitrary. It is the ultimate abuse of power and denial of humanity to constrain personal liberty, to enclose or encage without clear justification. This particularity is explored in the book, conceptually, psychologically and legally. In an effort to explain the gravity of arbitrary detention, the book examines the particular role of the state and its officials – those who have the responsibility to protect individuals from the arbitrary exercise of power – in overseeing and implementing a system in which arbitrary detention is not only tolerated but at times pursued as part of state policy. It also explores the long-term impacts and consequences of arbitrary detention on the person, family and community. The book identifies areas where the law is inadequate or unclear to regulate effectively the use of detention and to avoid its use as an arbitrary tool to abuse power or as a form of social control. Proposing solutions for future policy to scrutinise processes, this is a call for greater respect for the rule of law and human rights.

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