HC Deb 09 July 1971 vol 820 cc474-5W
Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on the circumstances in which 21 Rhodesian Africans who recently applied for assistance at the British High Commission in Botswana were refused such assistance and have subsequently returned against their will to Rhodesia; and what action he has taken to monitor their fate at the hands of the illegal régime.

Mr. Kershaw

The Rhodesian Africans in question entered Botswana illegally. The Botswana authorities, after exhaustively examining their applications to be treated as refugees, found no grounds for recognising them as such. They were not granted residence permits and were served with one month's notice (which was later extended) to leave Botswana.

Subsequently, 19 of the men applied in writing to the British High Commission in Gaborone for political asylum in the United Kingdom and 15 of them called at the High Commission where they put their cases individually. After careful consideration, the High Commission found that none of the petitioners qualified for political asylum in the United Kingdom.

The men were subsequently taken by the Botswana authorities to a point some four miles from the Rhodesian border control post. From there they walked into Rhodesia.

I have had no indication that any action has been taken against them since their return.