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Accused Persons (Appeals)

Volume 462: debated on Thursday 3 March 1949

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41.

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations how many prisoners awaiting the hearing of appeals have been held in prison in Basutoland for more than six months; whether he is aware that an accused person in a recent case had been imprisoned for over two years and under sentence of death for 14 months; and what changes in the methods of sending appeals to the Privy Council are proposed to remedy such conditions.

The High Commissioner reports that 19 prisoners at present under sentence of death have been held in prison for more than six months. I much regret the long period for which one prisoner has been confined; it has been due to the delays which an appeal to the Privy Council inevitably involves at present. Rules have now been drawn up to expedite the hearing of appeals to the Privy Council from Colonial Territories and my hon. Friend may be assured that every step possible is taken to avoid unnecessary delay.

Would my right hon. Friend consider the establishment of a court of appeal in Basutoland itself, as that might obviate these long delays in trials.

Yes. If another Question which is on the Order Paper today had been called, I should already have said that I am now consulting with the High Commissioner as to what can be done about providing a court of appeal.