HC Deb 16 July 1959 vol 609 cc582-4
51. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many persons have been released from detention in Nyasaland in each month since March; and what compensation has been paid to those discovered to be innocent of any offence.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Julian Amery)

The monthly figures for detainees released in Nyasaland are not immediately available, but I have asked the Governor for this information, and I will circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT when I receive it.

The total number released up to 30th June is 639. No compensation has been paid since the Governor was satisfied that it was necessary to exercise control over detainees for the purpose of maintaining public order.

Mr. Swingler

As there are, presumably, over 600 Africans who have managed to prove that they ought never to have been detained, and, at the same time, they have been denied the right to any judicial process to remove any smear which has been put upon them by their being detained, are they not entitled to some sort of compensation for the period during which they have been arbitrarily locked up before being released?

Mr. Amery

In this case, we followed the precedent established by the Labour Government during the Malaya emergency, when no compensation was paid.

Mr. Wade

Will the Minister give an assuance that all the detainees against whom no charge has been made will be released?

Mr. Amery

That raises a different question.

52. Mr. Swingler

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he will make a statement on the composition, constitution, and procedure of the Advisory Committee which hears appeals from Africans under detention in Nyasaland; and if he will publish regular reports of its proceedings.

Mr. J. Amery

The advisory Committee consists of three members; Mr. Justice Figgis, acting Puisne Judge; Mr. A. H. Watson, a Government officer with legal qualifications; and Mr. C. E. Snell, O.B.E., a retired tea estate manager.

The Committee is appointed under Regulation 24 (4, a) of the Emergency Regulations, and its procedure is set out under Regulation 24 (4, c).

The Regulations provide that the proceedings are confidential, and regular reports will not, therefore, be published.

Mr. Swingler

What are the terms of reference of this Committee? Are those who apply for release from detention compelled to attempt to prove their innocence, or are they released by the Advisory Committee on application, if there is no evidence of their being guilty of something which formed the basis of a charge? Which is the method used?

Mr. Amery

It is not quite as simple as that. Each detainee, at the time he is detained, is informed of his right of appeal to the Committee and of his right of appeal to the Governor. He has two rights. The detainees then make their appeal to the Committee, the details of which I have described. The Committee makes its recommendations to the Governor. Up to 11th June, fifty-six detainees had appealed to the Committee. Fifty-three of these cases have been considered. Conditional release has been recommended in eighteen cases. The Governor has accepted ten such recommendations, and six are still under consideration.