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Liberty IntactHuman Rights in English Law$
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Michael Tugendhat

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198790990

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198790990.001.0001

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Life, Security, Detention, Torture, Liberty, and Villeinage

Life, Security, Detention, Torture, Liberty, and Villeinage

(p.85) 7 Life, Security, Detention, Torture, Liberty, and Villeinage
Liberty Intact

Michael Tugendhat

Oxford University Press

Rights are necessary to protect free will. Preservation of life or limb may justify murder or assault, and invalidate a document signed under duress. The common law developed false imprisonment and habeas corpus to protect personal liberty. Habeas corpus protected everyone: slaves, women and children, and foreigners. Torture was used by Tudor and Stuart monarchs under the prerogative, not the common law. Nevertheless, common law judge heard evidence obtained under torture, and ordered to be pressed to death (peine forte et dure) defendants who would not plead. It was abolished, not because of an increase in empathy, but because in England the prerogative was reduced, and abroad the standard of proof in criminal trial was reduced, so it could be satisfied on circumstantial evidence (as in England). Security included reputation, which is not named in the ECHR. Villeinage died out due to respect for rights without being formally abolished.

Keywords:   life, liberty, property, detention, torture, reputation, peine forte et dure, slavery, habeas corpus, abolition of torture

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