Habeas corpus (/ˈheɪbiəs ˈkɔːrpəs/ (listen); Medieval Latin meaning "[we, a Court, command] that you have the body [of the detainee brought before us]") is a recourse in law through which a person can report an unlawful detention or imprisonment to a court and request that the court order the custodian of the person, usually a prison official, to bring the prisoner to court, to determine whether the detention is lawful.
The writ of habeas corpus is known as "the great and efficacious writ in all manner of illegal confinement".[Note 1] It is a summons with the force of a court order; it is addressed to the custodian (a prison official, for example) and demands that a prisoner be brought before the court, and that the custodian present proof of authority, allowing the court to determine whether the custodian has lawful authority to detain the prisoner. If the custodian is acting beyond his or her authority, then the prisoner must be released. Any prisoner, or another person acting on his or her behalf, may petition the court, or a judge, for a writ of habeas corpus. One reason for the writ to be sought by a person other than the prisoner is that the detainee might be held incommunicado. Most civil law jurisdictions provide a similar remedy for those unlawfully detained, but this is not always called habeas corpus. For example, in some Spanish-speaking nations, the equivalent remedy for unlawful imprisonment is the amparo de libertad ("protection of freedom").
Habeas corpus has certain limitations. Though a writ of right, it is not a writ of course.[Note 2] It is technically only a procedural remedy; it is a guarantee against any detention that is forbidden by law, but it does not necessarily protect other rights, such as the entitlement to a fair trial. So if an imposition such as internment without trial is permitted by the law, then habeas corpus may not be a useful remedy. In some countries, the writ has been temporarily or permanently suspended under the pretext of war or state of emergency.
The right to petition for a writ of habeas corpus has nonetheless long been celebrated as the most efficient safeguard of the liberty of the subject. The jurist Albert Venn Dicey wrote that the British Habeas Corpus Acts "declare no principle and define no rights, but they are for practical purposes worth a hundred constitutional articles guaranteeing individual liberty".
The writ of habeas corpus is one of what are called the "extraordinary", "common law", or "prerogative writs", which were historically issued by the English courts in the name of the monarch to control inferior courts and public authorities within the kingdom. The most common of the other such prerogative writs are quo warranto, prohibito, mandamus, procedendo, and certiorari. The due process for such petitions is not simply civil or criminal, because they incorporate the presumption of non-authority. The official who is the respondent must prove his authority to do or not do something. Failing this, the court must decide for the petitioner, who may be any person, not just an interested party. This differs from a motion in a civil process in which the movant must have standing, and bears the burden of proof.
From Latin habeas, 2nd person singular present subjunctive active of habere, "to have", "to hold"; and corpus, accusative singular of corpus, "body". In reference to more than one person, habeas corpora.
Literally, the phrase means "[we command] that you should have the [detainee's] body [brought to court]". The complete phrase habeas corpus [coram nobis] ad subjiciendum means "that you have the person [before us] for the purpose of subjecting (the case to examination)". These are words of writs included in a 14th-century Anglo-French document requiring a person to be brought before a court or judge, especially to determine if that person is being legally detained.
Praecipimus tibi quod corpus A.B. in prisona nostra sub custodia tua detentum, ut dicitur, una cum die et causa captionis et detentionis suae, quocumque nomine praedictus A.B. censeatur in eadem, habeas coram nobis ... ad subjiciendum et recipiendum ea quae curia nostra de eo adtunc et ibidem ordinare contigerit in hac parte. Et hoc nullatenus omittatis periculo incumbente. Et habeas ibi hoc breve.
We command you, that the body of A.B. in our prison under your custody detained, as it is said, together with the day and cause of his taking and detention, by whatever name the said A.B. may be known therein, you have at our Court ... to undergo and to receive that which our Court shall then and there consider and order in that behalf. Hereof in no way fail, at your peril. And have you then there this writ.
To J.K., Keeper of our Gaol of Jersey, in the Island of Jersey, and to J.C. Viscount of said Island, Greeting.
We command you that you have the body of C.C.W. detained in our prison under your custody, as it is said, together with the day and cause of his being taken and detained, by whatsoever name he may be called or known, in our Court before us, at Westminster, on the 18th day of January next, to undergo and receive all and singular such matters and things which our said Court shall then and there consider of in this behalf; and have there then this Writ.
We command you that the body of Charles L. Craig, in your custody detained, as it is said, together with the day and cause of his caption and detention, you safely have before Honorable Martin T. Manton, United States Circuit Judge for the Second Judicial Circuit, within the circuit and district aforesaid, to do and receive all and singular those things which the said judge shall then and there consider of him in this behalf; and have you then and there this writ.
The full name of the writ is often used to distinguish it from similar ancient writs, also named habeas corpus. These include:
Habeas corpus originally stems from the Assize of Clarendon, a re-issuance of rights during the reign of Henry II of England. In the 17th century, the foundations for habeas corpus were "wrongly thought" to have originated in Magna Carta. This charter declared that:
No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseized of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the land.
However the preceding article of Magna Carta, nr 38, declares:
No legal officer shall start proceedings against anyone (not just freemen, this was even then a universal human right) on his own mere say-so, without reliable witnesses having been brought for the purpose". - in the original Latin: "Nullus balivus ponat aliquem ad legem, simplici sua loquela, sine testibus fidelibus ad hoc aductis
Pursuant to that language, a person may not be subjected to any legal proceeding, such as arrest and imprisonment, without sufficient evidence having already been collected to show that there is a prima facie case to answer. This evidence must be collected beforehand, because it must be available to be exhibited in a public hearing within hours, or at the most days, after arrest, not months or longer as may happen in other jurisdictions that apply Napoleonic-inquisitorial criminal laws where evidence is commonly sought after a suspect's incarceration. Any charge leveled at the hearing thus must be based on evidence already collected, and an arrest and incarceration order is not lawful if not supported by sufficient evidence.
In contrast with the common law approach, consider the case of Luciano Ferrari-Bravo v. Italy the European Court of Human Rights ruled that "detention is intended to facilitate … the preliminary investigation". Ferrari-Bravo sought relief after nearly five years of preventive detention, and his application was rejected. The European Court of Human Rights deemed the five year detention to be "reasonable" under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides that a prisoner has a right to a public hearing before an impartial tribunal within a "reasonable" time after arrest. After his eventual trial, the evidence against Ferrari-Bravo was deemed insufficient and he was found not guilty.
William Blackstone cites the first recorded usage of habeas corpus ad subjiciendum in 1305, during the reign of King Edward I. However, other writs were issued with the same effect as early as the reign of Henry II in the 12th century. Blackstone explained the basis of the writ, saying "[t]he king is at all times entitled to have an account, why the liberty of any of his subjects is restrained, wherever that restraint may be inflicted." The procedure for issuing a writ of habeas corpus was first codified by the Habeas Corpus Act 1679, following judicial rulings which had restricted the effectiveness of the writ. A previous law (the Habeas Corpus Act 1640) had been passed forty years earlier to overturn a ruling that the command of the King was a sufficient answer to a petition of habeas corpus. The cornerstone purpose of the ''writ of habeas corpus'' was to limit the King's Chancery's ability to undermine the surety of law by allowing courts of justice decisions to be overturned in favor and application of ''equity'', a process managed by the Chancelor (a bishop) with the King's authority.
The 1679 codification of habeas corpus took place in the context of a sharp confrontation between King Charles II and the Parliament, which was dominated by the then sharply oppositional, nascent Whig Party. The Whig leaders had good reasons to fear the King moving against them through the courts (as indeed happened in 1681) and regarded habeas corpus as safeguarding their own persons. The short-lived Parliament which made this enactment came to be known as the Habeas Corpus Parliament - being dissolved by the King immediately afterwards.
Then, as now, the writ of habeas corpus was issued by a superior court in the name of the Sovereign, and commanded the addressee (a lower court, sheriff, or private subject) to produce the prisoner before the royal courts of law. A habeas corpus petition could be made by the prisoner him or herself or by a third party on his or her behalf and, as a result of the Habeas Corpus Acts, could be made regardless of whether the court was in session, by presenting the petition to a judge. Since the 18th century the writ has also been used in cases of unlawful detention by private individuals, most famously in Somersett's Case (1772), where the black slave Somersett was ordered to be freed. During that case, these famous words are said to have been uttered: "The air of England has long been too pure for a slave, and every man is free who breathes it". During the Seven Years' War and later conflicts, the Writ was used on behalf of soldiers and sailors pressed into military and naval service. The Habeas Corpus Act 1816 introduced some changes and expanded the territoriality of the legislation.
The privilege of habeas corpus has been suspended or restricted several times during English history, most recently during the 18th and 19th centuries. Although internment without trial has been authorised by statute since that time, for example during the two World Wars and the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the habeas corpus procedure has in modern times always technically remained available to such internees. However, as habeas corpus is only a procedural device to examine the lawfulness of a prisoner's detention, so long as the detention is in accordance with an Act of Parliament, the petition for habeas corpus is unsuccessful. Since the passage of the Human Rights Act 1998, the courts have been able to declare an Act of Parliament to be incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, but such a declaration of incompatibility has no legal effect unless and until it is acted upon by the government.
The wording of the writ of habeas corpus implies that the prisoner is brought to the court for the legality of the imprisonment to be examined. However, rather than issuing the writ immediately and waiting for the return of the writ by the custodian, modern practice in England is for the original application to be followed by a hearing with both parties present to decide the legality of the detention, without any writ being issued. If the detention is held to be unlawful, the prisoner can usually then be released or bailed by order of the court without having to be produced before it. With the development of modern public law, applications for habeas corpus have been to some extent discouraged, in favour of applications for judicial review. The writ, however, maintains its vigour, and was held by the UK Supreme Court to be available in respect of a prisoner captured by British forces in Afghanistan, albeit that the Secretary of State made a valid return to the writ justifying the detention of the claimant.
The writ of habeas corpus as a procedural remedy is part of Australia's English law inheritance. In 2005, the Australian parliament passed the Australian Anti-Terrorism Act 2005. Some legal experts questioned the constitutionality of the act, due in part to limitations it placed on habeas corpus.
Habeas corpus rights are part of the British legal tradition inherited by Canada. The rights exist in the common law but have been enshrined in the Constitution Act 1982, under Section Ten of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This states that "Everyone has the right on arrest or detention ... (c) to have the validity of the detention determined by way of habeas corpus and to be released if the detention is not lawful".
Suspension of the writ in Canadian history occurred famously during the October Crisis, during which the War Measures Act was invoked by the Governor General of Canada on the constitutional advice of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who had received a request from the Quebec Cabinet. The Act was also used to justify German, Slavic, and Ukrainian Canadian internment during the First World War, and the internment of German-Canadians, Italian-Canadians and Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War. The writ was suspended for several years following the Battle of Fort Erie (1866) during the Fenian Rising, though the suspension was only ever applied to suspects in the Thomas D'Arcy McGee assassination.
The writ is available where there is no other adequate remedy. However, a superior court always has the discretion to grant the writ even in the face of an alternative remedy (see May v Ferndale Institution). Under the Criminal Code the writ is largely unavailable if a statutory right of appeal exists, whether or not this right has been exercised.
A fundamental human right in the "1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man" drafted by Lafayette in cooperation with Thomas Jefferson, the guarantees against arbitrary detention are enshrined in the French Constitution and regulated by the Penal Code. The safeguards are equivalent to those found under the Habeas-Corpus provisions found in Germany, the United States and several Commonwealth countries. The French system of accountability prescribes severe penalties for ministers, police officers and civil and judiciary authorities who either violate or fail to enforce the law.
"Article 7 of  Declaration also provides that 'No individual may be accused, arrested, or detained except where the law so prescribes, and in accordance with the procedure it has laid down.' ... The Constitution further states that 'No one may be arbitrarily detained. The judicial authority, guardian of individual liberty, ensures the observance of this principle under the condition specified by law.' Its article 5 provides that everyone has the right to liberty and sets forth permissible circumstances under which people may be deprived of their liberty and procedural safeguards in case of detention. In particular, it states that 'anyone deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings by which the lawfulness of his detention shall be decided speedily by a court and his release ordered if the detention is not lawful'."
France and the United States played a synergistic role in the international team, led by Eleanor Roosevelt, which crafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The French judge and Nobel Peace Laureate René Cassin produced the first draft and argued against arbitrary detentions. René Cassin and the French team subsequently championed the habeas corpus provisions enshrined in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
Germany has constitutional guarantees against improper detention and these have been implemented in statutory law in a manner that can be considered as equivalent to writs of habeas corpus.
Article 104, paragraph 1 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany provides that deprivations of liberty may be imposed only on the basis of a specific enabling statute that also must include procedural rules. Article 104, paragraph 2 requires that any arrested individual be brought before a judge by the end of the day following the day of the arrest. For those detained as criminal suspects, article 104, paragraph 3 specifically requires that the judge must grant a hearing to the suspect in order to rule on the detention.
Restrictions on the power of the authorities to arrest and detain individuals also emanate from article 2 paragraph 2 of the Basic Law which guarantees liberty and requires a statutory authorization for any deprivation of liberty. In addition, several other articles of the Basic Law have a bearing on the issue. The most important of these are article 19, which generally requires a statutory basis for any infringements of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Basic Law while also guaranteeing judicial review; article 20, paragraph 3, which guarantees the rule of law; and article 3 which guarantees equality.
In particular, a constitutional obligation to grant remedies for improper detention is required by article 19, paragraph 4 of the Basic Law, which provides as follows: "Should any person's right be violated by public authority, he may have recourse to the courts. If no other jurisdiction has been established, recourse shall be to the ordinary courts."
The Indian judiciary, in a catena of cases, has effectively resorted to the writ of habeas corpus to secure release of a person from illegal detention. For example, in October 2009, the Karnataka High Court heard a habeas corpus petition filed by the parents of a girl who married a Muslim boy from Kannur district and was allegedly confined in a madrasa in Malapuram town. Usually, in most other jurisdictions, the writ is directed at police authorities. The extension to non-state authorities has its grounds in two cases: the 1898 Queen's Bench case of Ex Parte Daisy Hopkins, wherein the Proctor of Cambridge University did detain and arrest Hopkins without his jurisdiction, and Hopkins was released, and that of Somerset v Stewart, in which an African slave whose master had moved to London was freed by action of the writ.
The Indian judiciary has dispensed with the traditional doctrine of locus standi, so that if a detained person is not in a position to file a petition, it can be moved on his behalf by any other person. The scope of habeas relief has expanded in recent times by actions of the Indian judiciary.
In 1976, the habeas writ was used in the Rajan case, a student victim of torture in local police custody during the nationwide Emergency in India. On 12 March 2014, Subrata Roy's counsel approached the Chief Justice moving a habeas corpus petition. It was also filed by the Panthers Party to protest the imprisonment of Anna Hazare, a social activist.
In the Republic of Ireland, the writ of habeas corpus is available at common law and under the Habeas Corpus Acts of 1782 and 1816. A remedy equivalent to habeas corpus is also guaranteed by Article 40 of the 1937 constitution.
The article guarantees that "no citizen shall be deprived of his personal liberty save in accordance with law" and outlines a specific procedure for the High Court to enquire into the lawfulness of any person's detention. It does not mention the Latin term, habeas corpus, but includes the English phrase "produce the body".
Article 40.4.2° provides that a prisoner, or anyone acting on his behalf, may make a complaint to the High Court (or to any High Court judge) of unlawful detention. The court must then investigate the matter "forthwith" and may order that the defendant bring the prisoner before the court and give reasons for his detention. The court must immediately release the detainee unless it is satisfied that he is being held lawfully. The remedy is available not only to prisoners of the state, but also to persons unlawfully detained by any private party. However the constitution provides that the procedure is not binding on the Defence Forces during a state of war or armed rebellion.
The full text of Article 40.4.2° is as follows:
Upon complaint being made by or on behalf of any person to the High Court or any judge thereof alleging that such person is being unlawfully detained, the High Court and any and every judge thereof to whom such complaint is made shall forthwith enquire into the said complaint and may order the person in whose custody such person is detained to produce the body of such person before the High Court on a named day and to certify in writing the grounds of his detention, and the High Court shall, upon the body of such person being produced before that Court and after giving the person in whose custody he is detained an opportunity of justifying the detention, order the release of such person from such detention unless satisfied that he is being detained in accordance with the law. [Italics added]
The writ of habeas corpus continued as part of the Irish law when the state seceded from the United Kingdom in 1922. A remedy equivalent to habeas corpus was also guaranteed by Article 6 of the Constitution of the Irish Free State, enacted in 1922. That article used similar wording to Article 40.4 of the current constitution, which replaced it 1937.
The relationship between the Article 40 and the Habeas Corpus Acts of 1782 and 1816 is ambiguous, and Forde and Leonard write that "The extent if any to which Art 40.4 has replaced these Acts has yet to be determined". In The State (Ahern) v Cotter (1982) Walsh J opined that the ancient writ referred to in the Habeas Corpus Acts remains in existence in Irish law as a separate remedy from that provided for in Article 40.
In 1941, the Article 40 procedure was restricted by the Second Amendment. Prior to the amendment, a prisoner had the constitutional right to apply to any High Court judge for an enquiry into her detention, and to as many High Court judges as she wished. If the prisoner successfully challenged her detention before the High Court she was entitled to immediate, unconditional release.
The Second Amendment provided that a prisoner has only the right to apply to a single judge, and, once a writ has been issued, the President of the High Court has authority to choose the judge or panel of three judges who will decide the case. If the High Court finds that the prisoner's detention is unlawful due to the unconstitutionality of a law the judge must refer the matter to the Supreme Court, and until the Supreme's Court's decision is rendered the prisoner may be released only on bail.
The power of the state to detain persons prior to trial was extended by the Sixteenth Amendment, in 1996. In 1965, the Supreme Court ruled in the O'Callaghan case that the constitution required that an individual charged with a crime could be refused bail only if she was likely to flee or to interfere with witnesses or evidence. Since the Sixteenth Amendment, it has been possible for a court to take into account whether a person has committed serious crimes while on bail in the past.
Personal liberty is inviolable. No one may be detained, inspected, or searched nor otherwise subjected to any restriction of personal liberty except by order of the Judiciary stating a reason and only in such cases and in such manner as provided by the law. In exceptional circumstances and under such conditions of necessity and urgency as shall conclusively be defined by the law, the police may take provisional measures that shall be referred within 48 hours to the Judiciary for validation and which, in default of such validation in the following 48 hours, shall be revoked and considered null and void. Any act of physical and moral violence against a person subjected to restriction of personal liberty shall be punished. The law shall establish the maximum duration of preventive detention.
In Malaysia, the remedy of habeas corpus is guaranteed by the federal constitution, although not by name. Article 5(2) of the Constitution of Malaysia provides that "Where complaint is made to a High Court or any judge thereof that a person is being unlawfully detained the court shall inquire into the complaint and, unless satisfied that the detention is lawful, shall order him to be produced before the court and release him".
As there are several statutes, for example, the Internal Security Act 1960, that still permit detention without trial, the procedure is usually effective in such cases only if it can be shown that there was a procedural error in the way that the detention was ordered.
In New Zealand, habeas corpus may be invoked against the government or private individuals. In 2006, a child was allegedly kidnapped by his maternal grandfather after a custody dispute. The father began habeas corpus proceedings against the mother, the grandfather, the grandmother, the great grandmother, and another person alleged to have assisted in the kidnap of the child. The mother did not present the child to the court and so was imprisoned for contempt of court. She was released when the grandfather came forward with the child in late January 2007.
Issuance of a writ is an exercise of an extraordinary jurisdiction of the superior courts in Pakistan. A writ of habeas corpus may be issued by any High Court of a province in Pakistan. Article 199 of the 1973 Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, specifically provides for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus, empowering the courts to exercise this prerogative. Subject to the Article 199 of the Constitution, "A High Court may, if it is satisfied that no other adequate remedy is provided by law, on the application of any person, make an order that a person in custody within the territorial jurisdiction of the Court be brought before it so that the Court may satisfy itself that he is not being held in custody without a lawful authority or in an unlawful manner". The hallmark of extraordinary constitutional jurisdiction is to keep various functionaries of State within the ambit of their authority. Once a High Court has assumed jurisdiction to adjudicate the matter before it, justiciability of the issue raised before it is beyond question. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has stated clearly that the use of words "in an unlawful manner" implies that the court may examine, if a statute has allowed such detention, whether it was a colorable exercise of the power of authority. Thus, the court can examine the malafides of the action taken.
In the Bill of Rights of the Philippine constitution, habeas corpus is guaranteed in terms almost identically to those used in the U.S. Constitution. in Article 3, Section 15 of the Constitution of the Philippines states that "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except in cases of invasion or rebellion when the public safety requires it".
In 1971, after the Plaza Miranda bombing, the Marcos administration, under Ferdinand Marcos, suspended habeas corpus in an effort to stifle the oncoming insurgency, having blamed the Filipino Communist Party for the events of August 21. Many considered this to be a prelude to martial law. After widespread protests, however, the Arroyo administration decided to reintroduce the writ. In December 2009, habeas corpus was suspended in Maguindanao as the province was placed under martial law. This occurred in response to the Maguindanao massacre.
On May 23, 2017 at 10 pm Philippine time, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the whole island of Mindanao including Sulu and Tawi-tawi for the period of 60 days due to the series of attacks mounted by the Maute group, an ISIS-linked terrorist organization. The declaration suspends the writ.
The Parliament of Scotland passed a law to have the same effect as habeas corpus in the 18th century. This is now known as the Criminal Procedure Act 1701 c.6. It was originally called "the Act for preventing wrongful imprisonment and against undue delays in trials". It is still in force although certain parts have been repealed.
The present Constitution of Spain states that "A habeas corpus procedure shall be provided for by law to ensure the immediate handing over to the judicial authorities of any person illegally arrested". The statute which regulates the procedure is the Law of Habeas Corpus of 24 May 1984, which provides that a person imprisoned may, on her or his own or through a third person, allege that she or he is imprisoned unlawfully and request to appear before a judge. The request must specify the grounds on which the detention is considered to be unlawful, which can be, for example, that the custodian holding the prisoner does not have the legal authority, that the prisoner's constitutional rights have been violated, or that he has been subjected to mistreatment. The judge may then request additional information if needed, and may issue a habeas corpus order, at which point the custodian has 24 hours to bring the prisoner before the judge.
Historically, many of the territories of Spain had remedies equivalent to the habeas corpus, such as the privilege of manifestación in the Crown or Aragon or the right of the Tree in Biscay.
The United States inherited habeas corpus from the English common law. In England, the writ was issued in the name of the monarch. When the original thirteen American colonies declared independence, and became a republic based on popular sovereignty, any person, in the name of the people, acquired authority to initiate such writs. The U.S. Constitution specifically includes the habeas procedure in the Suspension Clause (Clause 2), located in Article One, Section 9. This states that "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it".
The writ of habeas corpus ad subjiciendum is a civil, not criminal, ex parte proceeding in which a court inquires as to the legitimacy of a prisoner's custody. Typically, habeas corpus proceedings are to determine whether the court that imposed sentence on the defendant had jurisdiction and authority to do so, or whether the defendant's sentence has expired. Habeas corpus is also used as a legal avenue to challenge other types of custody such as pretrial detention or detention by the United States Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement pursuant to a deportation proceeding.
Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses Grant suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War and Reconstruction for some places or types of cases. During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt suspended habeas corpus. Following the September 11 attacks, President George W. Bush attempted to place Guantanamo Bay detainees outside of the jurisdiction of habeas corpus, but the Supreme Court of the United States overturned this action in Boumediene v. Bush.
In 1526, the Fuero Nuevo of the Señorío de Vizcaya (New Charter of the Lordship of Biscay) established a form of habeas corpus in the territory of the Señorío de Vizcaya, nowadays part of Spain. This revised version of the Fuero Viejo (Old Charter) of 1451 codified the medieval custom whereby no person could be arbitrarily detained without being summoned first to the Oak of Gernika, an ancestral oak tree located in the outskirts of Gernika under which all laws of the Lordship of Biscay were passed.
The New Charter formalised that no one could be detained without a court order (Law 26 of Chapter 9) nor due to debts (Law 3 of Chapter 16). It also established that no one could be arrested without previously having been summoned to the Oak of Gernika and given 30 days to answer the said summon, and that upon presenting themselves under the Tree, they had to be provided with all evidence and accusations so that they could defend themselves (Law 7 of Chapter 9). No one could be sent to prison or deprived of their freedom until being formally trialed, and no one could be accused of a different crime until their current court trial was over (Law 5 of Chapter 5). Those fearing they were being arrested illegally could appeal to the Regimiento General that their rights could be upheld. The Regimiento (the executive arm of the Juntas Generales of Biscay) would demand the prisoner be handed over to them, and thereafter the prisoner would be released and placed under the protection of the Regimiento while awaiting for trial.
The Crown of Aragon also had a remedy equivalent to the habeas corpus called the manifestación de personas (literally, demonstration of persons). According to the right of manifestación, the Justicia de Aragon (lit. Justice of Aragon, an Aragonese judiciary figure similar to an ombudsman, but with far reaching executive powers) could require a judge, a court of justice, or any other official that they handed over to the Justicia (i.e., that they demonstrated) anyone being prosecuted so as to guarantee that this person's rights were upheld, and that no violence would befall this person prior to him being sentenced. Furthermore, the Justicia retained the right to examine the judgement and decide whether it satisfied the conditions of a fair trial; if the Justicia was not satisfied, he could refuse to hand the accused back to the authorities. The right of manifestación acted like an habeas corpus: knowing that the appeal to the Justicia would immediately follow any unlawful detention, these were effectively illegal. Equally, torture (which had been banned since 1325 in Aragon) could never take place. In some cases, people exerting their right of manifestación were kept under the Justicia's watch in manifestación prisons (famous for their mild and easy conditions) or house arrest; more generally however, the person was released from confinement and placed under the Justicia's protection, awaiting trial. The Justicia always granted the right of manifestación by default, but they only really had to act in extreme cases, as for instance famously happened in 1590 when Antonio Pérez, the disgraced secretary to Philip II of Spain, fled from Castile to Aragon and used his Aragonese ascendency to appeal to the Justicia for manifestación right, and therefore prevent his arrest at the King's behest.
The right of manifestación was codified in 1325 in the Declaratio Privilegii generalis passed by the Aragonese Corts under king James II of Aragon. It had been practiced since the inception of the kingdom of Aragon in the 11th century, and therefore predates the habeas corpus itself.
In 1430, King Władysław II Jagiełło of Poland granted the Privilege of Jedlnia, which proclaimed, Neminem captivabimus nisi iure victum ("We will not imprison anyone except if convicted by law"). This revolutionary innovation in civil libertarianism gave Polish citizens due process-style rights that did not exist in any other European country for another 250 years. Originally, the Privilege of Jedlnia was restricted to the nobility (the szlachta), but it was extended to cover townsmen in the 1791 Constitution. Importantly, social classifications in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth were not as rigid as in other European countries; townspeople and Jews were sometimes ennobled. The Privilege of Jedlnia provided broader coverage than many subsequently enacted habeas corpus laws because Poland's nobility constituted an unusually large percentage of the country's total population, which was Europe's largest. As a result, by the 16th century, it was protecting the liberty of between five hundred thousand and a million Poles.
In South Africa and other countries whose legal systems are based on Roman-Dutch law, the interdictum de homine libero exhibendo is the equivalent of the writ of habeas corpus. In South Africa, it has been entrenched in the Bill of Rights, which provides in section 35(2)(d) that every detained person has the right to challenge the lawfulness of the detention in person before a court and, if the detention is unlawful, to be released.
In the 1950s, American lawyer Luis Kutner began advocating an international writ of habeas corpus to protect individual human rights. In 1952, he filed a petition for a "United Nations Writ of Habeas Corpus" on behalf of William N. Oatis, an American journalist jailed the previous year by the Communist government of Czechoslovakia. Alleging that Czechoslovakia had violated Oatis's rights under the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that the United Nations General Assembly had "inherent power" to fashion remedies for human rights violations, the petition was filed with the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. The Commission forwarded the petition to Czechoslovakia, but no other United Nations action was taken. Oatis was released in 1953. Kutner went on to publish numerous articles and books advocating the creation of an "International Court of Habeas Corpus".
Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that "everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person". Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights goes further and calls for persons detained to have the right to challenge their detention, providing at article 5.4:
Everyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings by which the lawfulness of his detention shall be decided speedily by a court and his release ordered if the detention is not lawful.
Anam v. Bush, No. 1:04-cv-01194, is a writ of habeas corpus filed on behalf of a dozen Guantanamo detainees.
The petition was filed before US District Court Judge Henry H. Kennedy on July 14, 2004. It was one of over 200 habeas corpus petitions filed on behalf of detainees held in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.Boumediene v. Bush
Boumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. 723 (2008), was a writ of habeas corpus submission made in a civilian court of the United States on behalf of Lakhdar Boumediene, a naturalized citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina, held in military detention by the United States at the Guantanamo Bay detention camps in Cuba. Guantanamo Bay is not formally part of the United States, and under the terms of the 1903 lease between the United States and Cuba, Cuba retained ultimate sovereignty over the territory, while the United States exercises complete jurisdiction and control. The case was consolidated with habeas petition Al Odah v. United States. It challenged the legality of Boumediene's detention at the United States Naval Station military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as well as the constitutionality of the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Oral arguments on the combined cases were heard by the Supreme Court on December 5, 2007.
On June 12, 2008, Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion for the 5–4 majority, holding that the prisoners had a right to the writ of habeas corpus under the United States Constitution and that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 was an unconstitutional suspension of that right. The Court applied the Insular Cases, by the fact that the United States, by virtue of its complete jurisdiction and control, maintains de facto sovereignty over this territory, while Cuba retained ultimate sovereignty over the territory, to hold that the aliens detained as enemy combatants on that territory were entitled to the writ of habeas corpus protected in Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution. The lower court had expressly indicated that no constitutional rights (not merely the right to habeas) extend to the Guantanamo detainees, rejecting petitioners' arguments, but the Supreme Court held that fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution extend to the Guantanamo detainees as well. Invoking Marbury v. Madison (1803), the Court concluded:
The Nation’s basic charter cannot be contracted away like this. The Constitution grants Congress and the President the power to acquire, dispose of, and govern territory, not the power to decide when and where its terms apply. To hold that the political branches may switch the Constitution on or off at will would lead to a regime in which they, not this Court, say 'what the law is'.
Along with Rasul v. Bush (2004), Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004), and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006), this was a landmark case in the Court's detainee jurisprudence.Detainees held in the Bagram Theater Internment Facility
On January 16, 2010, the United States Department of Defense complied with a court order and made public a heavily redacted list of the detainees held in the Bagram Theater Internment Facility.
Detainees started to be held
in primitive, temporary quarters, in what was originally called the Bagram Collection Point, from late 2001.
Detainees were later moved to an indoor detention center until late 2009, when newly constructed facilities were opened.
The identity of most detainees held in Bagram remained classified until the publication of the first list in January 2010.Dozens of the names on the list are identical to names of detainees who had been held in the Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba.
It was reported that three of the detainees in Bagram had formerly been held in Guantanamo, because they had the same Internment Serial Numbers. They were: Gul Zaman, Khadan Kadri and Hafizullah Shabaz Khau.
While some Guantanamo detainees were sent directly to Guantanamo from CIA custody, most Guantanamo detainees spent some time in US Military custody at Bagram, or at the similar Kandahar detention facility. Close to one hundred detainees testified about their time in Bagram during one of their OARDEC proceedings, or told reporters about their stay after their release.
Several dozen individuals reported being held in Bagram prior to the preparation of the official list published in January 2010. A few individuals report being released from Bagram, who aren't on the official list because they arrived there are the official list was prepared.Ex parte Curtis
Ex parte Curtis, 106 U.S. 371 (1882), is an 8-1 ruling by the United States Supreme Court that the Act of August 15, 1876 was a constitutional exercise of the enumerated powers of the United States Congress under Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution.
The petitioner had been convicted of receiving money for political purposes in violation of the Act. The petitioner asked the Supreme Court for a writ of habeas corpus.Guantanamo detainees' appeals in Washington, D.C. courts
Guantananmo detainees have been allowed to initiate appeals in Washington DC Courts since the passage of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (DTA) closed off the right of Guantanamo captives to submit new petitions of habeas corpus.
It substituted a right to a limited appeal to Federal Courts of appeal in Washington DC.
The Act allowed detainees to challenge whether their Combatant Status Review Tribunals had correctly followed the rules laid out by the Department of Defense.
After the passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) closed down the pending habeas corpus cases, attorneys for the detainees initiated both a challenge to the constitutionality of the MCA's stripping of the right to habeas corpus; and they started initiating the appeals in the DC Federal Courts of appeal allowed by the DTA.Habeas Corpus (1928 film)
Habeas Corpus is a 1928 short comedy silent film starring Laurel and Hardy as grave-robbers hired by a mad scientist. It was shot in July 1928 and released by M-G-M on December 1. Although technically a silent film—having intertitles and no synchronized dialogue—it was the inaugural Roach film released with a synchronized music and sounds effects track for theatres wired for sound. The Victor sound discs were long thought lost until a lone set surfaced in the 1990s and was reunited with the film elements.Habeas Corpus (play)
Habeas Corpus is a stage comedy in two acts by the English author Alan Bennett. It was first performed at the Lyric Theatre in London on 10 May 1973, with Alec Guinness in the central role. It ran, with cast changes, until 10 August 1974. The Broadway production that followed was less successful, running for less than three months. The play has been revived several times since then, in London and elsewhere.
The action revolves around the (generally) thwarted libidos of the principal characters. The title of the play is an old legal term habeas corpus, which translates from Latin as "you shall have the body".Habeas Corpus Act 1640
The Habeas Corpus Act 1640 (16 Car 1 c 10) was an Act of the Parliament of England.
The Act was passed by the Long Parliament shortly after the impeachment and execution of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford in 1641 and before the English Civil War. It abolished the Star Chamber. It also declared that anyone imprisoned by order of the king, privy council, or any councillor could apply for a writ of habeas corpus, required that all returns to the writ "certify the true cause" of imprisonment, and clarified that the Court of Common Pleas also had jurisdiction to issue the writ in such cases (prior to which it was argued that only the King's Bench could issue the writ).The writ was amended by the Habeas Corpus Act 1679.
The words of commencement were repealed by section 1 of, and Schedule 1 to, the Statute Law Revision Act 1948.
The whole Act, so far as not otherwise repealed, was repealed by section 8(2) of, and Part I of Schedule 5 to, the Justices of the Peace Act 1968.Habeas Corpus Act 1679
The Habeas Corpus Act 1679 is an Act of Parliament in England (31 Cha. 2 c. 2) during the reign of King Charles II. It was passed by what became known as the Habeas Corpus Parliament to define and strengthen the ancient prerogative writ of habeas corpus, which required a court to examine the lawfulness of a prisoner's detention and thus prevent unlawful or arbitrary imprisonment.Habeas Corpus Act 1862
The Habeas Corpus Act 1862 (20 & 26 Vict. c.20) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that limited the right of the English courts to issue writs of habeas corpus in British colonies or dominions. The act was passed in response to Ex parte Anderson, a case in the Canadian courts in which the English Court of King's Bench attempted to issue a writ of habeas corpus and have Anderson appear before an English judge. While the court issued the writ, it felt that setting such a precedent would interfere with the "higher degree of Colonial independence". As a result, the Act was passed, receiving the Royal Assent on 16 May 1862.
The statute consists of only two clauses:
s. 1 declares that no writ of habeas corpus can be issued by an English judge to any foreign nation or colony which forms part of the Queen's possessions (broadly speaking, the Commonwealth of Nations) if that nation has a court able to issue such a writ.
s. 2 states that the act does not affect the rights of citizens of those nations to appeal cases to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.The Act was notably used in R v Secretary of State for Home Affairs, ex p O'Brien  2 KB 361, in which Sir Patrick Hastings' challenge to the deportation and internment of British citizens to the Irish Free State was rebuffed by the Divisional Court because the 1862 Act meant that the Court had no jurisdiction to order the release of the citizens.In 1971 Lord Denning led the Court of Appeal in Re Keenan  3 WLR 844 in saying that no English court has jurisdiction to issue a writ of habeas corpus anywhere in Ireland, whether in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland. He based this judgment partially on the 1862 Act, and partially on a judgment of Lord Mansfield construing the Repeal of Act for Securing Dependence of Ireland Act 1782 and the Irish Appeals Act 1783, in declining the opportunity to issue a writ in Northern Ireland.Habeas Corpus Act 1867
The Habeas Corpus Act of 1867 (sess. ii, chap. 28, 14 Stat. 385) is an act of Congress that significantly expanded the jurisdiction of federal courts to issue writs of habeas corpus. Passed February 5, 1867, the Act amended the Judiciary Act of 1789 to grant the courts the power to issue writs of habeas corpus "in all cases where any person may be restrained of his or her liberty in violation of the constitution, or any treaty or law of the United States." Prior to the Act's passage, prisoners in the custody of one of the states who wished to challenge the legality of their detention could petition for a writ of habeas corpus only in state courts; the federal court system was barred from issuing writs of habeas corpus in their cases. The Act also permitted the court "to go beyond the return" and question the truth of the jailer's stated justification for detaining the petitioning prisoner, whereas prior to the Act courts were technically bound to accept the jailer's word that the prisoner was actually being held for the reason stated. The Act largely restored habeas corpus following its 1863 suspension by Congress, ensuring that anyone arrested after its passage could challenge their detention in the federal courts, but denied habeas relief to anyone who was already in military custody for any military offense or for having aided the Confederacy.When the Habeas Corpus Act of 1867 is spoken of, it is usually this act that is meant. Another act dealing with habeas corpus was passed the same day and appears on the same page of the United States Statutes at Large, being the twenty-seventh rather than the twenty-eighth chapter. It amended the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act of 1863, which permitted (among other things) government officials charged with abusing their powers under the suspension of habeas corpus to have their cases heard at the federal rather than state level. The 1867 Act ensured that the federal courts could effectively hear the cases transferred to them by issuing a writ for habeas corpus cum causa.Habeas Corpus Parliament
The Habeas Corpus Parliament, also known as the First Exclusion Parliament, was a short-lived English Parliament which assembled on 6 March 1679 (or 1678, Old Style) during the reign of Charles II of England, the third parliament of the King's reign. It is named after the Habeas Corpus Act, which it enacted in May 1679.
The Habeas Corpus Parliament sat for two sessions. The first session sat from 6 March 1679 to 13 March 1679, the second session from 15 March 1679 to 26 May 1679. It was dissolved while in recess on 12 July 1679.Habeas Corpus Suspension Act (1863)
The Habeas Corpus Suspension, 12 Stat. 755 (1863), entitled An Act relating to Habeas Corpus, and regulating Judicial Proceedings in Certain Cases, was an Act of Congress that authorized the president of the United States to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in response to the American Civil War and provided for the release of political prisoners. It began in the House of Representatives as an indemnity bill, introduced on December 5, 1862, releasing the president and his subordinates from any liability for having suspended habeas corpus without congressional approval. The Senate amended the House's bill, and the compromise reported out of the conference committee altered it to qualify the indemnity and to suspend habeas corpus on Congress's own authority. Abraham Lincoln signed the bill into law on March 3, 1863, and suspended habeas corpus under the authority it granted him six months later. The suspension was partially lifted with the issuance of Proclamation 148 by Andrew Johnson, and the Act became inoperative with the end of the Civil War. The exceptions to his Proclamation 148 were the States of Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas, the District of Columbia, and the Territories of New Mexico and Arizona.Habeas corpus in the United States
Habeas corpus () is a recourse in law challenging the reasons or conditions of a person's confinement under color of law. A petition for habeas corpus is filed with a court that has jurisdiction over the custodian, and if granted, a writ is issued directing the custodian to bring the confined person before the court for examination into those reasons or conditions. The Suspension Clause of the United States Constitution specifically included the English common law procedure in Article One, Section 9, clause 2, which demands that "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it."
United States law affords persons the right to petition the federal courts for a writ of habeas corpus. Individual states also afford persons the ability to petition their own state court systems for habeas corpus pursuant to their respective constitutions and laws when held or sentenced by state authorities.
Federal habeas review did not extend to those in state custody until almost a century after the nation's founding. During the Civil War and Reconstruction, as later during the War on Terrorism, the right to petition for a writ of habeas corpus was substantially curtailed for persons accused of engaging in certain conduct. In reaction to the former, and to ensure state courts enforced federal law, a Reconstruction Act for the first time extended the right of federal court habeas review to those in the custody of state courts (prisons and jails), expanding the writ essentially to all imprisoned on American soil. The federal habeas statute that resulted, with substantial amendments, is now at 28 U.S.C. § 2241. For many decades, the great majority of habeas petitions reviewed in federal court have been filed by those confined in state prisons by sentence of a state court for state crimes (e.g., murder, rape, robbery, etc.), since in the American system, most crimes have historically been a matter of state law.
The privilege of habeas corpus is not a right against unlawful arrest, but rather a right to be released from imprisonment after such arrest. If one believes the arrest is without legal merit and subsequently refuses to come willingly, he still may be guilty of resisting arrest, which can sometimes be a crime in and of itself (even if the initial arrest itself was illegal) depending on the state.Hamdi v. Rumsfeld
Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 542 U.S. 507 (2004), is a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court recognized the power of the U.S. government to detain enemy combatants, including U.S. citizens, but ruled that detainees who are U.S. citizens must have the rights of due process, and the ability to challenge their enemy combatant status before an impartial authority.
It reversed the dismissal by a lower court of a habeas corpus petition brought on behalf of Yaser Esam Hamdi, a U.S. citizen who was being detained indefinitely as an illegal enemy combatant after being captured in Afghanistan in 2001. Following the court's decision, on October 9, 2004, the U.S. government released Hamdi without charge and deported him to Saudi Arabia, where his family lived and he had grown up, on the condition that he renounce his U.S. citizenship and commit to travel prohibitions and other conditions.Irvin v. Dowd
Irvin v. Dowd, 359 U.S. 394 (1959), was a United States Supreme Court case. It involved an escaped convict's (Leslie Irvin) denial of appeal. The convict sought a federal writ of habeas corpus.
Irvin v. Dowd was one of the first of many cases to underscore the "swing vote" role played by Justice Potter Stewart, who recently had come to the Supreme Court and was caught between the two warring camps of justices—the liberal camp of Justices Earl Warren and William Brennan, and the conservative one headed by Justice Felix Frankfurter. Stewart was in the ideological center of the Supreme Court at the time.Kiyemba v. Bush
Kiyemba v. Bush
(Civil Action No. 05-cv-01509)
is a petition for habeas corpus filed on behalf of Jamal Kiyemba, a Ugandan citizen formerly held in extrajudicial detention in the United States' Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba. Mr. Kiyemba is the next friend of each of the nine Uighur petitioners, Abdusabur, Abdusamad, Abdunasir, Hammad, Hudhaifa, Jalaal, Khalid, Saabir, and Saadiq, who seek the writ of habeas corpus through the petition Sabin Willett, Susan Baker Manning and a team of Bingham McCutchen lawyers are counsel for his petition, and those of nine other men whose petitions were attached to his.
Kiyemba has been repatriated. But most of the other men remain in captivity.
The Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (DTA) closed off the right of Guantanamo captives to submit new petitions of habeas corpus. (Pending cases were left open.) The DTA opened a path for Guantanamo captives to submit a limited appeal to Federal Courts of appeal in Washington DC.
The Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) closed down the pending habeas corpus cases.
Attorneys for the captives have both initiated a challenge to the constitutionality of the MCA's stripping of the right to habeas corpus; and they have initiated appeals in the DC Federal Courts of appeal.
The DTA's limited avenue of appeal only allows challenges as to whether the Combatant Status Review Tribunal correctly followed their rules.
Manning has initiated steps to have her remaining clients status reviewed in the Washington DC courts.Military Commissions Act of 2006
The United States Military Commissions Act of 2006, also known as HR-6166, was an Act of Congress signed by President George W. Bush on October 17, 2006. The Act's stated purpose was "to authorize trial by military commission for violations of the law of war, and for other purposes".It was drafted following the Supreme Court's decision on Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006), which ruled that the Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRT), as established by the United States Department of Defense, were procedurally flawed and unconstitutional, and did not provide protections under the Geneva Conventions. It prohibited detainees who had been classified as enemy combatants or were awaiting hearings on their status from using habeas corpus to petition federal courts in challenges to their detention. All pending habeas corpus cases at the federal district court were stayed.
In Boumediene v. Bush (2008), the US Supreme Court held that section 7 of the MCA was unconstitutional because of its restrictions of detainee rights. It determined that detainees had the right to petition federal courts for habeas corpus challenges.Rasul v. Bush
Rasul v. Bush, 542 U.S. 466 (2004), was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court in which the Court held that foreign nationals held in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp could petition federal courts for writs of habeas corpus to review the legality of their detention. The Court's 6–3 judgment on June 28, 2004, reversed a D.C. Circuit decision which had held that the judiciary has no jurisdiction to hear any petitions from foreign nationals held in Guantanamo Bay.
The lead petitioner, British citizen Shafiq Rasul, was one of the Tipton Three. The U.S. transported the three men to the United Kingdom in March 2004 before the decision was handed down, and the government released them the next day.
Criminal procedure (investigation)
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