“Have His Carcase”*

Image: (Wikipedia): “the Thames at Runnymede where, in 1215, King John of England met rebel baron leaders, who presented John with their draft demands for reform. Archbishop Stephen Langton’s pragmatic efforts at mediation over the next ten days turned these incomplete demands into a charter capturing the proposed peace agreement; a few years later, this agreement was renamed Magna Carta, meaning “Great Charter”.

Runnymede was a traditional place for assemblies, but it was also located on neutral ground between the royal fortress of Windsor Castle and the rebel base at Staines, and offered both sides the security of a rendezvous where they were unlikely to find themselves at a military disadvantage.”

*a 1932 locked-room mystery by Dorothy L. Sayers. The novel’s title appears in William Cowper’s translation of Book II of Homer’s Iliad: “The vulture’s maw / Shall have his carcase, and the dogs his bones”. The phrase also appears a number of times in The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, as Sam Weller’s distortion of the legal term habeas corpus.

From the website of the Library of Congress:

– Prepared by Clare Feikert, Senior Foreign Law Specialist, May 2007:

Executive Summary

Habeas corpus ad subjiciendum is an ancient and fundamental principle of English constitutional law. It originated through the common law and has been confirmed and regulated by a number of statutes that date back to the Magna Carta. Habeas corpus is still available in the United Kingdom today. Its importance and use, however, has diminished considerably due to extensive statutory protections that exist to protect a person’s liberty…”

Clare Feikert-Ahalt joined the Law Library of Congress as a Foreign Law Specialist in 2002. She conducts research and writes reports on a wide range of topics relating primarily to the laws of the United Kingdom, as well as a number of other commonwealth jurisdictions. When not at work she enjoys spending time with her children and horses and is also working on an evil master plan to facilitate the mass import of British chocolate to the United States...

– Prepared by Issam Michael Saliba, Senior Foreign Law Specialist, March 2009:

“Under the concept of habeas corpus as developed in Anglo-American jurisprudence, persons who are deprived of their liberty have the right to challenge through judicial inquiry the legality of their arrest or detention. The right to challenge one’s arrest or detention is now incorporated in international human rights standards. This right may be exercised through the extraordinary process of habeas corpus in the countries which belong to the Common Law system, or through the normal procedural process, including appeals and motions for retrial in the civil law countries.

This report analyzes the right available to persons in Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Kingdom, and Yemen to challenge the legality of their arrest or detention.

The writ of habeas corpus is available in Canada, Japan, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom. In the United Kingdom the importance and use of the writ has diminished considerably due to extensive statutory protections. In Pakistan the writ is recognized under Article 99 of the 1973 Constitution, which gives the High Court the jurisdiction to hear and dispose of the writ. In Japan the writ was introduced in the Constitution under the influence of the United States following World War II, but the United Nations Human Rights Committee has criticized Japan for Habeas Corpus Rules that impair its effectiveness. In Canada the Supreme Court ruled that the law requiring detention of persons deemed inadmissible to Canada on national security grounds must be amended to recognize the right of such persons to petition for habeas corpus relief.

The reports analyzing German and French constitutional and statutory guarantees against arbitrary detention conclude that such guarantees can be considered as comparable or equivalent to writs of habeas corpus.

The remaining countries have different constitutional and statutory provisions that allow the courts to review the legality of a person’s arrest or detention. The implementation and enforcement of such provisions are not fully discussed in this report.

Full Report (PDF, 213KB)…”

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