[dih-tey-nee, dee-tey-nee]
Detainee is a term used by certain governments and their military to refer to individuals held in custody, such as those it does not classify and treat as either prisoners of war or suspects in criminal cases. It is used to refer to "any person captured or otherwise detained by an armed force. More generally, it is "someone held in custody.

The word "Detainee" is from the french word : "détenu" and the french verb "détenir". "Détenu" means prisoner in french "prisonnier". In French, a "détenu" is a guilty person, a "prisonnier" is not necessarily a guilty person, for example the prisoners of war or the persons before a judgment.

U.S. government's captured enemy combatants

The word came into common usage during and after the War in Afghanistan (2001–present), as the U.S. government's term of choice to describe members of the Taliban and al-Qaeda captured in that war, which has generated considerable debate around the globe. The U.S. government classifies captured enemy combatants as "detainees" because there is no consensus about whether the combatants are "prisoners of war" under the definition found in the Geneva Convention. The controversy arises because the Geneva Convention protects "prisoners of war" but says nothing about "detainees." Many of the detainees of this war were transferred to the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp. These detainees are allowed a trial, but with strong procedural limitations. There were allegations of humiliating treatment and even deaths of such detainees from 2003 through 2005.

In 2005, it was reported that the Bush administration transferred:

The Canadian government was criticized for releasing some detainees back to Afghanistan in 2007. They quietly reversed themselves in early 2008.

In June 2008, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that detainees at Guantanamo could challenge their detention within civilian courts of the United States.

Juvenile delinquents

It is also used to refer to adolescents who are in police custody, in order to note that they are juveniles (as opposed to being placed formally under arrest).


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