(Amrit Pal Singh ‘Amrit’)
When someone is kept in custody without proper due process of law despite the fact that he or she committed no offence, it is called ‘arbitrary arrest’ or ‘arbitrary detention’.
According to the Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948: –
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
In simple words, no one has the right to put someone in prison, to keep him or her there, or to send him or her away from his/her country unjustly, or without good reason.
Article 9 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights says:
1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.
2. Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him.
3. Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release. It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody, but release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial, at any other stage of the judicial proceedings, and, should occasion arise, for execution of the judgment.
4. Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful.
5. Anyone who has been the victim of unlawful arrest or detention shall have an enforceable right to compensation.
National law should set down the grounds and procedures for arrest and detention. People should not be arrested and detained except as provided for by law. Neither the arrest nor the detention should be arbitrary. Here, the term ‘detention’ applies to all forms of detention where people are deprived of their liberty.
Almost in every case of arbitrary arrest, the victim is neither given explanation regarding his or her arrest, nor is he or she shown any arrest warrant.
Though, arbitrary arrests and detentions are typically made by governments as a technique to hold back opposition; many fanatical groups too occasionally use such tactics to silence their opponents. A detainee sometimes is tortured during his or her arbitrary arrest.
Many pseudo democratic governments, dictatorships and police states carry out arbitrary arrests and ‘forced disappearance’ in response to street demonstrations. It is common that arbitrarily detained persons suffer physical as well as psychological torture during their detention.
No person can be denied his or her freedom. No person can be taken into arbitrary arrest. No person can be exiled from his/her country without having first committed an actual crime against the law.