HC Deb 29 February 1956 vol 549 cc1179-80
34. Mrs. Castle

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, in view of the improvement in the emergency situation in Kenya as a result of which the power to issue detention orders has been restricted, he will now take steps to bring to trial all those still held in detention camps.

Mr. Hare

Prosecutions are instituted against Mau Mau suspects in all cases where complete evidence of specific offences exists and where witnesses can be brought to testify. The improvement in the emergency situation has not made it any easier to bring detainees to trial but it has substantially increased the rate of release from detention.

Mrs. Castle

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that new arrests of Mau Mau suspects are being made weekly? Will he not at least agree that all these cases should be publicly tried, as there is a widespread belief among Africans in Kenya that people are being accused of Mau Mau activities when they have been engaged only in constitutional non-violent activities?

Mr. Hare

I cannot agree with the latter part of the hon. Lady's supplementary question, but she can take comfort from the fact that the rate of release is going up. In December of last year releases ran at the rate of 2,000 a month, and the same figure applies for January this year. I think that as conditions improve the rate of releases will definitely improve as well.

Mr. H. Fraser

Would my right hon. Friend not agree that the suggestion made by the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) would mean that releases would be immensely slowed up?

Mr. Hare

That is certainly the view I take.

Mr. Fernyhough

In view of the fact that 60,000 are still detained and only 2,000 are released each month, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it will be two or three years before some people who may be innocent are given their freedom?

Mr. Hare

I think that the hon. Member is wrong. There are 43,000 detained. This is a considerable number, but I hope that as conditions improve the rate of release will also improve.

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