in The Most Fundamental Legal Right

Published in print April 2000 | ISBN: 9780198265849
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191715280 | DOI:

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This chapter examines the situations in which emergency laws are invoked and the reduced scope for habeas corpus during those situations. It considers emergencies that are not necessarily called emergencies, for example, periods of war, and also covers the use of emergency laws that operate outside of states of emergency. These include situations where public order, preventive detention, or internal security laws coexist with the normal legal system. Special safeguards have been adopted in some jurisdictions in recognition of the potentially draconian nature of emergency laws — either in those laws themselves or in the constitution, to operate when these special or emergency laws operate. Most Commonwealth countries include in their written constitutions a chapter on emergencies, while countries without such provisions may deploy standing legislation specifically designed to govern emergencies. One of the characteristics of periods of emergency rule is mass arrests — and the subsequent discovery that many of the arrests were simply not justified or were based on the flimsiest of information.

Keywords: emergency laws; habeas corpus; Commonwealth; mass arrests; states of emergency; preventive detention; public order; internal security laws

Chapter.  25441 words. 

Subjects: Human Rights and Immigration

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