Arbitrary detentions consist of the arrest and detainment of persons without judicial recourse. Political opponents are frequently the targets of these extralegal processes in authoritarian states, although "free", "democratic" Western states are increasingly willing and able to detain alleged terrorists without charges.
Where there is no independent judiciary, arbitrary detentions are simple and common. Without a standard of evidence to be met or an independent body to determine whether such a standard has been met, the police power to detain is supreme. While arrests may be carried out by a normal police force, paramilitaries are widely used to detain political enemies.
The presence of supreme laws and an independent judiciary does not confer complete immunity from arbitrary detainment. Standard practice, even in some places where the legal system is not subservient to police power, is to pass statutes granting police powers to detain without charge or judicial review. Modern anti-terrorism laws frequently contain provisions to legalize temporary detention without charges, while the United States government uses a lack of extraterritoriality, and comparatively lax laws in other countries, such as Syria, and, in particular, military installations, such as Guantanamo Bay, to imprison, indefinitely and without charge, anyone declared an "unlawful enemy combatant," a phrase coined to avoid granting POW status and rights to detainees.
Prison arrangements vary extensively between countries. Where a significant number of long-term detainees exist, governments may build special systems of prisons like the Soviet gulags and Nazi concentration/labor camps; both of these systems involved forced labor. China has prominently placed a number of political dissidents under house arrest in recent years. Facilities may or may not be secret.
America currently operates a sizable prison camp at the Guantanamo Bay naval base. In addition, the CIA either operates or until recently operated a system of secret prisons for prisoners considered too valuable to place in the relative spotlight of Guantanamo.