Internment is the imprisonment or confinement of people, commonly in large groups, without trial. The Oxford English Dictionary (1989) gives the meaning as: "The action of 'interning'; confinement within the limits of a country or place."
Most modern usage is about individuals, and there is a distinction between internment, which is being confined usually for preventive or political reasons, and imprisonment, which is being closely confined as a punishment for crime.
Internment also refers to the practice of neutral countries in time of war in detaining belligerent armed forces and equipment in their territories under the Second Hague Convention.
Early civilizations such as Assyria used forced resettlement of populations as a means of controlling territory, but it was not until much later in the late 19th and 20th centuries that records exist of groups of civilian non-combatants being concentrated into large prison camps.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights restricts the use of internment. Article 9 states that "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile."