Document Type

Article

Publication Date

December 2003

Abstract

In this paper I compare the habeas corpus systems of El Salvador, the United States and Argentina. My purpose is to develop a general understanding of the procedure for bringing the writ in each country and analyze the substantive law governing the rights of habeas corpus petitioners in each country. I evaluate the systems against the backdrop of each country’s political and legal history with respect to the writ of habeas corpus. The ultimate aim of this paper is to reform the habeas corpus law of El Salvador by analyzing the Salvadoran system as compared to the Argentine and U.S. systems.

I conclude that the Argentine habeas corpus system provides a better model for the Salvadoran system than does the U.S. system. I draw this conclusion because the two countries share common foundations for their legal systems, in addition to common histories of civil war, during which there were numerous disappearances and denial of habeas corpus rights. Moreover, Argentina’s habeas corpus law protects the liberty interest of the detained individual more so than U.S. habeas corpus law. This heightened protection of the right to liberty largely results from the country’s past history of forced disappearances and incommunicado detention. Because El Salvador witnessed similar problems in its past, the Argentine model provides a good model for Salvadoran reform.