Arbitrary Arrest By: Mikayla Weden


Anyone at any age can be arrested without reason by any person of authority at any given time. Men, Women, Children, and any other people could be arrested for something they never did for no reason at all. Around the world, in many countries racial minorities and immigrants are the first to be arrested. "Countless millions of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants are at risk of immigration detention each year." but “effective legal assistance and the opportunity to adequately challenge the legality of detention" are virtually nonexistent in many parts of the world leading to thousands of arbitrary arrests yearly. (Draft Guiding Principles on the Right to Challenge the Legality of Arbitrary Detention). This means that getting help on these arbitrary arrests is very hard because there is little to no help in many countries where it is needed most.

Jack Mapanje describes his concerns with arbitrary arrests, detention, and torture in a poem called "For a friend Taken"

Even robots flick amber first

And you can whizz down the bloody

Road before the red if you like!

(Reading Contemporary African Literature: Critical Perspectives.)

Mapanje describes intensely the suddenness with which several academics in the University of Malawi went missing and died or were sent to prisons in the 1970's. The amber in the poem warns of the forthcoming danger of the arrests. The arrests in Malawi came suddenly and unexpectedly and rarely someone would get out of an arrest.


In the Universal Declaratation of Human Rights article 9 states

"No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile." (Universal Declaration of Human rights)

Arbitrary arrest is the unlawful or illegal arrest/imprisonment of any person without any reason. Usually Arbitrary arrest happens if there is little to no evidence meaning that the person is arrested because it is easier than looking for the evidence and real facts. The person arrested is not charged with anything but is put in detention anyways. Those arrested arbitrarily usually have no idea why they were arrested because there is no plausible answer.


Around the world “thousands of persons are subjected to arbitrary detention each year” (Fact Sheet No. 26, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention). This is mostly happening in parts of South America, the Middle East, Africa and some parts of Europe. In the Oromia region of Ethiopia several protests have taken place due to the Ethiopian government creating a "master plan" that will lead to the displacement of many Oromo farmers. These protests have led to many arbitrary arrests and killings of students and other important community figures. These arbitrary arrests go against Ethiopia's own Constitution, and clearly violate the human rights of the people of Ethiopia. The “Security forces, including members of the federal police and the military, have arbitrarily arrested students, teachers”and other “people who provided assistance or shelter to fleeing students” (Such a Brutal Crackdown). The brutal crackdown in Ethiopia has caused too much damage for nothing but a protest.

The Oromia region of Ethiopia:

Viewer discretion advised. Some of the content in this video may be disturbing to some people.


Arbitrary arrests happen for several reasons. Some of these arrests are racial, or discriminatory, while some have to do with lack of sufficient evidence. All of these arrests usually are for the easiness of the whole thing. Normally to arrest someone you must have a good enough reason to arrest that person. Next the person arrested is booked. Soon the person must go to a preliminary hearing to see if there is even enough evidence to go to an actual trial and see if the person arrested is guilty or not. The legal process is long and includes a lot of paperwork but for those who are arrested arbitrarily usually have no charge attached to them and don't get a trial, which is another violation of human rights. Overall, people are arrested arbitrarily because it is easier and less work to arrest for no reason than arrest for an actual charge.

Here is a site that is working to stop arbitrary detention. Use the QR code to get to it and help out!!

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