Arbitrary arrest and arbitrary detention are the arrest or detention of an individual in a case in which there is no likelihood or evidence that they committed a crime against legal statute, or in which there has been no proper due process of law or order.
Virtually all individuals who are arbitrarily arrested are given no explanation as to why they are being arrested, and they are not shown any arrest warrant. Depending on the social context, many or the vast majority of arbitrarily arrested individuals may be held incommunicado and their whereabouts can be concealed from their family, associates, the public population and open trial courts.
Arbitrarily depriving an individual of their liberty is prohibited under international human rights law. Article 9 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights decrees that "no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile"; that is, no individual, regardless of circumstances, is to be deprived of their liberty or exiled from their country without having first committed an actual criminal offense against a legal statute, and the government cannot deprive an individual of their liberty without proper due process of law. As well, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights specifies the protection from arbitrary arrest and detention by the Article 9. The implementation of the Covenants is monitored by the United Nations human rights treaty bodies.
- "Freedom from Arbitrary Arrest and Exile". Human Rights Law. United Nations Cyber Schoolbus. 2006-11-09. Archived from the original on 2007-07-17. Retrieved 2007-09-30.
- "Human Rights Violations by the Indonesian Armed Forces". Human Rights. Human Rights Watch. 1998-06-27. Retrieved 2007-09-30.
- "Arbitrary arrest / Incommunicado detention / Risks of ill-treatment - SYR 003 / 0506 / OBS 060". Human Rights. International Federation for Human Rights. 2006-05-15. Retrieved 2007-09-30.
- "Enforced Disappearance and Incommunicado Detention in China". Human Rights. World Organisation Against Torture. 2007-08-31. Retrieved 2007-09-30.
- "Universal Declaration of Human Rights". Human Rights. United Nations. 1998-12-01. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-30.
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 9
- Behind the Wire: An Update to Ending Secret Detentions (2005), Human Rights First