Legal Systems of the World: A Political, Social and Cultural Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, pp. 645-47 (Herbert M. Kritzer ed., 2002)


A fundamental legal safeguard of freedom and the most important English common law writ, the writ of habeas corpus is a court order commanding that an imprisoned person be personally produced in court and that an explanation be provided as to why that person is detained. The writ of habeas corpus provides a judicial remedy for enforcing a fundamental individual right, the right to personal liberty, which may be defined as the right to be free of physical restraint that is not justified by law. Whenever imprisonment violates a constitutional or fundamental right, there is an infringement of the right to personal liberty.