HC Deb 31 October 1957 vol 575 cc100-2W
Mrs. Jeger

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what report has been received by Her Majesty's Government from the Council of Europe regarding the question of human rights in Cyprus.

Mr. Ormsby-Gore

Her Majesty's Government have received no report from the Council of Europe regarding the question of human rights in Cyprus. They have received various communications from the European Commission and Sub-Commission of Human Rights. The Commission have laid great stress on their rule of secrecy. It would therefore be improper for Her Majesty's Government to go beyond the terms of the Sub-Commission's own recent communiqués. The terms of these, which were issued respectively on 14th October and 18th October, are as follows:

"The Secretariat of the Council of Europe on instructions of the President of the European Sub-Commission of Human Rights communicates the following:

"The European Commission of Human Rights, whose seat is at Strasbourg, was seized on 7th May, 1956, of an application lodged by the Greek Government against the United Kingdom Government concerning the implementation of the Convention for the protection of Human Rights and fundamental freedoms in the Island of Cyprus. The application was referred on 2nd June. 1956, to a Sub-Commission of seven members, instructed in accordance with Article 28 of the Convention, to ascertain the facts, and, at the same time, to explore the possibilities of a friendly settlement based on respect for human rights. After several hearings of the agents and counsel of the two Governments, the Sub-Commission decided on 6th September, 1957, to carry out an investigation in Cyprus for the purpose of ascertaining the facts relating to the following two points:

  1. (a) The existence and present extent within the meaning of Article 15 of the Convention of a public Emergency threatening the life of the nation.
  2. (b) The circumstances in which the curfew regulations are applied.

"The date for the inquiry on the spot has not yet been fixed, the Sub-Commission having in the meantime approached the Governments concerned to grant it the necessary facilities to enable it to carry out its task. Once the Sub-Commission's task is completed, the plenary commission will be required to state its views on the com- patibility with the Convention of the emergency measures mentioned in the Greek application. The final decision will rest with the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe."

"The following communiqué is issued by the Secretariat of the Council of Europe on the instructions of the President of the European Commission of Human Rights.

"1. On 17th July, 1957, the Greek Government lodged an application with the European Commission of Human Rights against the United Kingdom Government, alleging forty-nine cases of torture, or ill-treatment amounting to torture, in Cyprus. The British Government submitted that these allegations were without foundation.

"2. According to the procedure laid down by the European Convention of Human Rights and the Rules of Procedure of the Commission, the latter was called upon to decide first without going into the merits on the admissibility of the application, with special reference to the exhaustion of domestic remedies within the meaning of Article 26 of the Convention.

"3. After hearing the representatives of the parties at its ninth session, which was held in Strasbourg from 28th August to 5th September, 1957, the Commission gave its decision on 12th October, 1957. Its only task at this stage was to apply the Rules of Procedure laid down in the Convention, in particular Article 26 referred to above, concerning the admissibility of the application. The Commission declared the application admissible in respect of twenty-nine of the cases mentioned and inadmissible on the grounds that domestic remedies had not been exhausted in respect of the other cases.

"4. The decision was reached without any consideration of the merits of the matter. The next stage in the proceedings will be the establishment of the facts relating to these twenty-nine cases. At the same time, an attempt will be made to bring about a friendly settlement between the parties. At this stage the Commission, acting through a Sub-Commission made up of seven of its members, will be called upon to ascertain the facts submitted."