HC Deb 26 June 1900 vol 84 cc1115-6

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for War if he will state what, in the areas in South Africa where martial law has been proclaimed, was the number of persons arrested under its provisions up to 31st May; how many of these had been brought to trial, and how many had been convicted or acquitted; whether, and, if so, in how many cases had the intervention of the Supreme Court been invoked, and with what result; whether, and, if so, in how many cases had persons arrested been discharged by the military authorities after conviction and sentence, after appeal had been made to the Supreme Court, but irrespective of any actual judgment on its part; and how many persons had been discharged without being brought to trial.


I am not in a position to give the detailed information for which the hon. Member asks. Perhaps, however, I may explain the course which has been pursued. On the outbreak of war Sir A. Milner inquired by cable whether the administration of martial law was to be based on the principles embodied in a circular issued by the Colonial Office for the guidance of governors in 1867. The Colonial Office replied in the affirmative. Two further memorandums were drawn up indicating the proper application of these principles to cases which were likely to arise, and the three documents were circulated to officers charged with the administration of martial law in South Africa. Such documents are and must be merely advisory. The safeguards of justice in martial law must be sought in the good sense, and humanity of those charged with its administration. On 9th March the Secretary of State directed Lord Roberts to furnish records of all proceedings, so that the War Office might have the advantage of the experience gained during the only recent, and by far the most extensive, application of martial law. But these particulars have not yet reached us.