§ 35. Mr. John Hall
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if the outbreak of violence in Sierra Leone which followed police attempts to prevent illicit diamond mining has now ended; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Profumo
As a result of energetic action by the police, who were for a time supported by troops in a non-combatant rôle, there has been no recurrence of violence since the initial outbreak on 24th August in the Kono district. Prompt action has been taken by the Government of Sierra Leone to restore law and order in concert with the tribal authorities, as a result of which illicit diamond mining is now under control.
§ Mr. Hall
While accepting the fact that vacancies for officers and other ranks have been made good in the police force, may I ask the Minister whether he is quite sure in his mind that the police force is strong enough to deal with outbreaks of this kind which might occur in future? Secondly, will he confirm that there was no loss of life in the operations against the illicit diamond miners?
§ Mr. Profumo
I think I can confirm that the police force is capable of dealing with all normal problems, but, of course, the House will recognise that it is possible that abnormal conditions may arise, in which circumstances troops are called in, but in a non-combatant rôle. As far as I know, there was no loss of life, and if I find that I am wrong in that matter I will inform the House.