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Rivonia Trial Sentences

Oral Answers to Questions — South Africa – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th July 1964.

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Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North 12:00 am, 27th July 1964

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) in view of the fact that all those persons sentenced in the Rivonia trial have decided not to appeal and that Her Majesty's Government voted in the Security Council for a resolution urgently appealing to the South African Government to grant an immediate amnesty to all the persons sentenced, what further steps Her Majesty's Government have taken or propose to take to secure the release of those persons pursuant to the resolution of the Security Council;

(2) what reply he has sent to the letter from the Aberdeen Trades Council sent to him by the hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North about the action to be taken by Her Majesty's Government pursuant to the United Nations Security Council resolution regarding the Rivonia trial in South Africa.

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Conway

The reply asked for in Question No. 5 is contained in the letter which my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State sent to the hon. and learned Gentleman on 8th July which explained the action taken by Her Majesty's Government in this matter.

Her Majesty's Ambassador in Pretoria has since been instructed to draw the attention of the South African Government to the widespread criticism in this country of the length of the sentences passed in this case, and to represent the desirability of reducing them. This he has done.

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

That is a very unsatisfactory Answer. I asked what practical steps the Government were taking to see that clemency is extended to these men, and the Minister has not given me any indication of the practical steps. Does not he realise that Britain owes a debt of honour to these men, a debt emphasised by the very creditable and satisfactory vote of the United Nations, to see that clemency is extended to these unfortunate prisoners?

Photo of Mr Peter Thomas Mr Peter Thomas , Conway

If the hon. and learned Gentleman will do me the courtesy of reading the Answer which I gave to his two Questions, he will find that in the latter part of it I mentioned the practical steps which were taken.

Photo of Sir John Hall Sir John Hall , Wycombe

What control can this country possibly have over the independent judiciary of another country?