In 2019, there were more immigration detainees than prisoners in Hong Kong.

Despite these high numbers, little is known about the workings of the immigration detention system.  


Immigration detention refers to the practice of detaining persons suspected of violating immigration rules and regulations in closed government facilities.

在香港,入境羈留是 行政拘留 detention. The decision to deprive an individual of liberty for reasons related to their immigration status is made by government officials, not courts.

How is immigration detention different from prison?

If someone is accused of committing a crime, the criminal charges against them ordinarily have to be proved beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecution in a court of law. A court decides whether and for how long an individual convicted of a crime should be sent to prison. By contrast, an immigration detainee loses their liberty without the check and balance of judicial scrutiny.

Where are people detained in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong’s three main immigration detention facilities are:

  • 青山灣入境事務中心
  • 馬頭角羈留中心
  • 大潭峽懲教所

Anecdotal accounts indicate that individuals are detained anywhere between a few hours and a few years.

(Credit: South China Morning Post)
(Credit: Immigration Department)
(Credit: Correctional Services Department)

However, immigration detainees can also be held in prisons, police stations, and more.

See the graph below for all detention locations.

How to use this visualisation
  • Where are immigration detainees held?
  • Where are minors held?
  • Which authority manages the facilities?
  • What rules govern the treatment of detainees?

Find the answers to the questions by selecting the options under “Group by” and “Color by”.


This project is a 3-year project at the Faculty of Law within the Chinese University of Hong Kong to evaluate the immigration detention system in Hong Kong in relation to vulnerable migrants. We aim to generate policy-oriented analysis that can help to improve the system and protect the rights and welfare of detainees and their families. 




For individuals seeking help, please see this non-exhaustive list for civil society organizations and other relevant resources.

Exit mobile version