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Roumania (Trials)

Volume 446: debated on Wednesday 28 January 1948

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17.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has now received the full reports of the trials of Dr. Maniu and his associates; if he will make a statement thereon; and whether the processes of the trials are a matter covered by Article 3 of the Peace Treaty for Roumania.

39.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has now completed his study of the documents relating to the case of M. Maniu; and whether he now proposes to take action to implement Article 3 of the Treaty with Roumania, guaranteeing the fundamental freedoms of expression, of publication, of political opinion and of public meeting.

Since I am anxious fully to report upon this subject, I will, with permission, circulate the reply in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Are His Majesty's Government considering the advisability of issuing a White Paper covering the processes and circumstances of all the major political trials in Eastern Europe, in view of the fact that all of them have shown a cynical disregard of justice, and those in ex-enemy countries have shown disregard of the human rights clauses in the Peace Treaties with ex-enemy countries?

I could not promise that we are considering such a comprehensive work. I should, perhaps, say that the hon. and gallant Gentleman will see from the reply, that I am placing in the Library a translation of as full a record as we can obtain of the proceedings, and making reference to the human rights clauses in the appropriate Treaties.

Following is the reply:

We have now received full reports of this trial. I propose to place in the Library a translation of the report of proceedings which was published by the Roumanian Government in French. I must warn hon. Members that this report is by no means complete. Members of the British Legation attended the trial and they have reported that the stenographic records were censored before publication.

It is clear from the evidence now available that most of the so-called crimes of which Dr. Maniu and his associates were accused would not be considered crimes in a democratic State; while the charges on certain points such as trying to leave the country without permission, arose out of the actions of the Roumanian authorities themselves in denying normal facilities to the Opposition. Furthermore, even if it were admitted that any of the accusations made against Dr. Maniu could properly have been regarded as offences if proved, it remains the fact that many of them were quite unproven by any standards which would be recognised in an English Court of Law.

There were charges that Dr. Maniu had been in communication with the United States and British Missions. It is not, in any normal country an offence in itself for members of opposition parties to be on terms of ordinary intercourse with foreign Missions. But quite apart from this, since Roumania was at the time under an Armistice régime, under which the British and American Governments were represented on the Allied Control Commission; since we had, with the Soviet Union, taken a hand in reorganising the Roumanian Government, it was our right to keep in touch with representative Roumanian political leaders, and their duty to keep the representatives of the United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union informed about political developments in Roumania.

As regards the last part of the Question of the hon. Member for Belfast University (Professor Savory), although Article 3 of the Peace Treaty for Roumania does not specifically deal with the processes of trials, we should certainly take the view that the right to a fair trial was a basic human right.

It is the Roumanian Government who are pledged to implement Article 3 by their signature and ratification of the Peace Treaty. His Majesty's Government reminded them of their obligations in this respect in their Note of 25th June. As I informed the hon. Member on 21st January, we are considering what further action can now usefully be taken.