H. H. A. Cooper


The purpose of the present article is not to criticize the laudable project of those whose object is to secure better protection for fundamental human rights, but rather to examine in detail the theory and practice of habeas corpus in one Latin American country, Peru, and to demonstrate that the greatest encroachments on human rights come not from political tyranny, as is popularly imagined, but from the malfunctioning of the legal system itself, against which even the most perfectly conceived habeas corpus is quite ineffective. It is trite but true that a legal system is only as effective as the human agency engaged in running it. It is sad to relate that, for all their apparent excellence on paper, the majority of Peruvian laws, as anyone with but slight acquaint- ance with the country can testify, are a dead letter. Of nothing is this truer than of the law relating to habeas corpus in Peru.