HC Deb 29 May 1934 vol 290 cc25-6
47. Mr. DOBBIE

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the development of the practice of illtreating political prisoners in the prisons and detention camps of many countries, he will consider instructing the British delegation to the League of Nations to ask the League to lay down a code on this subject by which persons charged with political offences should be treated at least with the humanity prescribed for ordinary criminals and that the arrest or detention of such persons should be notified to the League, which shall appoint representatives in each country who shall be armed with a right to visit and obtain access to such persons?


The International Prison Commission, on which this country is represented, drafted Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which were in a revised form submitted to a committee of the Assembly of the League of Nations in October last year. These rules are designed to include all persons deprived of their liberty and put in prison for any reason whatever. The term 'prison' is used in the widest sense of the word. It is further stated in the observations preceding the rules that if the premises used for the provisional detention of persons arrested by the police are not included in this term in certain countries, the fundamental ideas underlying the rules must nevertheless be followed as far as possible. There is in these rules no specific reference to persons charged with political offences, but Rule 5 requires that other civil prisoners under order of the court in countries where such measures exist, should not be subjected to any greater restriction of liberty or severity than is required by the special nature of the detention, and to maintain order. These rules have been circulated by the League of Nations to the States members of the League, asking for the comment and criticism of the respective Governments, and while this action is in process it would seem to be inadvisable to take such action as the hon. Member suggests.


Is the Prime Minister aware of the anomaly that is going to arise very shortly, inasmuch as the International Penitentiary Congress is to meet in Berlin, of all places?


Perhaps it is rather a good thing.


Has there been any response from the countries which are members of the League of Nations indicating their observance of these rules?


If my hon. Friend will be good enough to put that question down, I will supply an answer.


Has the Prime Minister's attention been called to the Oranienburg detention camp?