Political Law

Boris Mejoff vs Director of Prisons (1951)

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G.R. No. L-4254 – 90 Phil. 70 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – Declaration of Principles and State Policies – Doctrine of Incorporation – Universal Declaration of Human Rights

In 1948, Boris Mejoff, a Russian who was brought to the Philippines by the invading Japanese forces, was due for deportation but no ship would take him back to Russia. As a result, the immigration chief ordered the commitment of Mejoff to the Bilibid Prison. Mejoff then questioned his detention as he alleged that his detention was unreasonable and was against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1949, the Supreme Court denied his petition for habeas corpus. The Supreme Court ruled that Mejoff was not able to adduce evidence that his detention was unreasonable. It was ruled that temporary detention is a necessary step in the process of exclusion or expulsion of undesirable aliens pending arrangements for his deportation. Now two years passed and he was still in Bilibid. He now filed this second petition for habeas corpus questioning his detention.

ISSUE: Whether or not Mejoff should be released from prison.

HELD: Yes but subject to certain conditions.

The Philippines is a member of the United Nations which promulgated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Philippine Constitution likewise provides that it adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of its laws. Thus, as a state policy, the Philippines adheres to an individual’s right to liberty. No one shall be deprived of liberty without due process of law.

In this case, Mejoff’s detention was to eliminate the fear that he would be engaged in subversive activities against the Philippine government. The Supreme Court however noted that the Japanese was no longer at war with the Philippines or the USA, thus, the danger sought to be avoided by his detention is remote.

Mejoff’s petition was granted but he will be subjected to surveillance and he must also post a bond.

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