Habeas Corpus

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POL American National Government



Habeas Corpus, which means "have the body," in Latin, is a legal writ that a detainee can use to claim protection from a unjustifiable detention of himself or someone else. The petition can stall disciplinary action taken against the detained party, though it must in some way display that the party responsible for the detention did so in error, legally or factually. Habeas corpus is most often claimed by the detained person himself, though it is also commonly claimed for detainee by their family members.

Habeas Corpus is an old legal system that started in English common law and has been around and used prior to the year 1400. The ability to petition against unlawful detainment is an important right to protect individual freedoms and guard against arbitrary action of the state. It also protects against the tyrannical and selfish use of power of high-ranking politicals.

In the U.S., habeus corpus has historically been granted to detainees of the executive branch of the federal government. Over time, the privilege has been extended to all federal courts. Habeas corpus is sometimes diminished or even suspended in certain circumstances, usually revolving around states of emergency and issues of national security. For instance, after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the Bush administration attempted to diminish habeas corpus rights in order to allow the government to detain terror suspects without charges being filed. By the law of war draws a distinction between the armed forces and the peaceful populations of belligerent nations and also between those who are lawful and unlawful combatants. Lawful combatants are subject to capture and detention as detainees of war by opposing military forces. Unlawful combatants are likewise subject to capture and detention, but in addition they are subject to trial and...
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