Alternatives to Detention in China

Prohibiting the detention of vulnerable individuals

The People’s Republic of China’s (China) Exit and Entry Law, which came into effect on 1 July 2013, aims to limit the use of immigration detention for vulnerable individuals.

The Exit and Entry Law excludes certain vulnerable migrants from detention including minors under 16 years of age, persons with disabilities, persons with serious illnesses, pregnant women, and those over 70 years of age.

The Exit and Entry Law also contains provisions allowing refugees and asylum seekers to stay in China after obtaining an identification card from public security authorities.

Additionally, the July 2012 revisions to the Procedural Provisions for the Handling of Administrative Cases by Public Security Organs also excludes other individuals from detention including: those who voluntarily ask for inspection by entry-exit department, pay fines, and buy tickets to voluntarily return to their home country; those who entered through irregular means and stayed, received no help from family members or embassies; survivors of trafficking; and foreigners married to Chinese nationals, especially those with children born in China.

Note: Section 61 of the Exit-Entry Administrative Law simply prohibits the detention of vulnerable groups for “investigation”, but says their “activity scope” may be restricted, i.e. they may not leave the restricted locations without approval of authorities. The period for restricting activity scope is not to exceed 60 days. It is unclear if these vulnerable groups can be detained for other reasons other than “investigation”.

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There are alternatives cover

Over the past five years, the IDC has undertaken a program of research to identify and describe a number of positive alternatives to immigration detention (‘alternatives’) that respect fundamental rights, are less expensive and are equally or more effective than traditional border controls.

This research, entitled There are alternatives, provides readers with the guidance needed to successfully avoid unnecessary detention and to ensure community options are as effective as possible.

This text was published in September 2015.