John P. Mandler

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The right of habeas corpus has always been considered one of the foundations of the rule of law of Western civilization. It is the "great writ," the key to the protection of all other human liberties. During the years of military dictatorship in Argentina, the "great writ" failed. From 1976 to 1984, between 9,000 and 30,000 people were "disappeared" at the hands of the Argentine military, police and security forces. Thousands more were detained for long periods by executive order without trial or without being charged with an offense. The habeas corpus petitions filed by relatives and friends on behalf of those detained provided virtually no relief.

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