Although it has a long history of legitimate use in wartime, detention without charge, sometimes in secret, has been one of the hallmarks of totalitarian states.
In English speaking democracies, since the thirteenth century signing of the Magna Carta, captives were able to call upon the writ of habeas corpus — literally "you have the body." This legal procedure required the state to show that there was a meaningful, legal justification for their detention.
In recent decades some democratic countries have introduced limited mechanisms whereby individuals can be detained without being charged or convicted of a crime. See, for example, the Canadian Minister's Security Certificate.
During the global war on terror the United States has used extrajudicial detention on unlawful enemy combatants and terrorists. Ten of the captives held in the Guantanamo Bay detention camps faced charges before Guantanamo military commissions, which were struck down by the US Supreme Court.
In Pakistan, high court investigates 'disappearances' in wake of 9/ 11; In a move that could shed light on Pakistana[euro]os intelligence services, the Supreme Court is investigating the extrajudicial detention of more than 1,000 Pakistanis after 9/ 11, some of whom are still missing.(World)
Jan 22, 2010; Byline: Issam Ahmed Correspondent Nearly five years after her husband went missing, Amina Janjua remains hopeful of his recovery...