Learn about: Habeas Corpus and the Geneva Conventions


What Is … Habeas Corpus?

A Latin term that means, “You should have the body” Habeas corpus means that a person who is put in prison has the right to a trial in a court. Habeas corpus was part of the Magna Carta (one of the most important legal documents in history) created in the year 1215. Habeas corpus is part of the U.S. Constitution.

The Geneva Conventions

Four treaties first signed in 1949 that set guidelines for the humane treatment of prisoners of war The Geneva Conventions are signed by 194 countries, including the United States. The guidelines say that prisoners should be treated humanely.

The Bush administration says that it does not have to follow the Geneva Conventions with prisoners suspected of being al-Qaeda members because they are not in uniform and do not represent a government. President Bush says that they are “unlawful combatants” and are not covered by the Geneva Conventions.

By Amanda Vender

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