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Tanganyika (Corporal Punishment)

Volume 498: debated on Wednesday 26 March 1952

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies by whose authority and by what officers corporal punishment is inflicted in Tanganyika; for what specific offences; by what instrument and by how many strokes this punishment is normally imposed; to what extent he has evidence of corporal punishment illegally employed; and what records there are of the legal infliction of this punishment on non-Africans including British during the past 30 years.

As the answer is very long, I am, with permission, circulating it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is a Colony in which there is an excessive number of instances of corporal punishment, and, in view of the recommendation of the United Nations that in all Trust territories corporal punishment should be completely abolished, cannot we follow that example by implementing the principle in this Colony?

I have also to take account of public opinion in the Colony concerned. If the hon. Gentleman will read my answer, he will see that a very large number of serious offences are at present covered by corporal punishment. I should have to be satisfied that it would be an advantage to have other and more severe penalties for some of these offences before I acted.

Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to suggest that Tanganyika is a more wicked Colony than any other Colony? If not, why is it that corporal punishment is being progressively abolished in other Colonies, but not in this one?

I cannot go beyond what I have already said, and I ask the hon. Member to take a slightly more robust view of this matter.

Owing to the most unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.

Following is the answer:

Corporal punishment may be inflicted in Tanganyika on the authority of courts of competent jurisdiction, including native courts, or in the case of prison offences, on the authority of the Commissioner of Prisons. The relevant Ordinance does not specify who is to carry it out and I am asking the Governor what the practice is.

2. The offences for which it may be awarded to adults are as follows:

Attempted rape.
Defilement of a girl under 12.
Attempted defilement of a girl under 12.
Defilement or attempted defilement of an idiot or an imbecile.
Robbery, or attempted robbery, with violence.
Any assault included in Chapter XXIV of the Penal Code of an aggravated nature by reason of the age, condition or sex of the person upon whom, or by reason of the nature of the weapon or violence with which, such assault shall have been committed.
Cattle stealing.
Indecently assaulting or annoying a female.
Acts done with the intention of maiming, disfiguring causing grievous harm.
Injuring animals.
Cruelty to animals.
Any offence in Chapter XXIX of the Penal Code which deals with burglary, housebreaking and similar offences, after a previous conviction of any such offence.
Defilement by husband of wife under 12.
Parent or guardian parting with possession of girl under 12 in order that she may be carnally known by her husband.
Procuring girl under 12 in order that she may be carnally known by her husband.
Conspiracy to defile.
Unnatural offences.
Attempt to commit unnatural offence.
Indecent assault of boy under 14.
Indecent practices between males.
Attempted murder by convict.
Disabling in order to commit felony or misdemeanour.
Intentionally endangering safety of travelling by railway.
Casting away, or attempting to cast vessel.
Destroying or damaging an inhabited house or a vessel with explosives.

Juveniles may be awarded corporal punishment for any non-capital offence under the Penal Code or any other offence ordinarily punishable by imprisonment.

Sentences of corporal punishment awarded by a native court are subject to confirmation by provincial commissioners who have instructions to confirm only sentences in respect of indecent assaults, assaults aggravated by the age, sex or condition of the victim or of the particular savagery on the offender's part and cattle theft.

3. For prison offences corporal punishment may be awarded for mutiny or incitement to mutiny or personal violence to a prison officer.

4. The instrument used is a rattan cane. No sentence of corporal punishment may exceed 24 strokes for adults, or 12 strokes for juveniles. I am not sure that these rules apply to sentences by native courts but I am asking the Governor.

5. There is, as far as I am aware, no evidence that corporal punishment is illegally employed. I have no information regarding infliction of corporal punishment on non-Africans during the past 30 years.