The Working Group was established by the then Commission on Human Rights, in its resolution 1991/42, and was most recently extended by the Human Rights Council resolution 42/22 of 2019.
The group is composed of five independent experts of balanced geographical representation: Africa; Latin America; Western European and Other States (which includes New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the USA, and Israel); Eastern Europe; and Asia. UN Special Mandate holders act with independence, impartiality, and integrity.
There are three main areas of activity. First, the Working Group investigates individual complaints of arbitrary detention. In this respect, the Working Group invites responses from the relevant governmental authorities and, based on all the information received, it issues opinions as to whether the detention is arbitrary and in violation of international human rights standards. Second, the Working Group conducts country visits to assess the situation regarding detention in particular states. Third, the Working Group carries out broader inquiries into patterns of arbitrary detention and its impact.