§ 42. Mrs. Castle
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the trouble among Mau Mau prisoners at Mageta Island detention camp, Kenya, which led to the detailing of 50 extra prison staff to the camp on 16th July.
§ Mr. Hare
Mage. Island is a special detention camp in which 1,995 Mau Mau adherents are detained in the interests of maintaining public order. It is a potentially valuable agricultural area covered with thick bush, which is being cleared by the detainees who are paid for the work they do. Since 22nd June, however, the detainees have refused to do any work other than camp maintenance.
Experience has shown that it is difficult to rehabilitate any detainee who is not given work to do; accordingly, an investigation was put in hand to identify the ringleaders. This was being resisted, and to prevent passive resistance turning to violence and to deal with violence should it occur, security forces on the Island were increased, 209 ringleaders were identified and isolated without incident on 20th July, in the presence of the Deputy Commissioner of Prisons.
§ Mrs. Castle
Is it not a fact that, under the Emergency Regulations of Kenya, detainees in special camps of this kind can be compelled only to do work which contributes to the ending of the emergency, and that these men have been compelled to do general agricultural work which does not fall within this category? Can the right hon. Gentleman honestly say that it is rehabilitating offenders to compel them to do work contrary to the law?
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Can the hon. Gentleman say how many out of nearly 2,000 of these persons have actually been charged with offences or convicted of offences, and how far, therefore, it is proper to describe them as offenders?
§ Mr. Bevan
Is it not desirable to obtain information if there is a Question on the Order Paper which relates to unrest amongst a large number of prisoners who are detainees at Her Majesty's pleasure in the public interest and for the purpose of maintaining public order? Would it not have been desirable to find out whether their resentment is not against their continued detention over a long period of time with hardly any hope of getting out.