§ 25. Mr. Edelman
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will inquire into the circumstances in which Mr. Quentin Jacobsen, a member of the National Union of Journalists and a British subject, is at present being held without trial by the South Africa authorities in solitary confinement in a prison cell in Johannesburg; and what action he is taking to secure Mr. Jacobsen's release.
§ Mr. Anthony Royle
I understand that Mr. Jacobsen has been detained under Section 6 of the South African Terrorism Act and is to appear in the magistrates court some time this week. It is likely that he will be remanded for a hearing in the Supreme Court on 20th March. Arrangements have now been made for weekly consular visits.
§ Mr. Edelman
I deplore imprisonment without trial anywhere, but is it not par- 962 ticularly inhuman that Mr. Jacobsen should have been kept incommunicado for so long without being allowed to receive visitors? Why did it take so long for Her Majesty's Government to send a representative to intervene in this case when a British subject was being held in such appalling conditions?
§ Mr. Royle
We regret the conditions in which Mr. Jacobsen has been held. But it did not take a long time for the British Government to take action. As recently as 3rd January Her Majesty's Ambassador reminded the South African authorities that, as a general principle, whenever a British subject is detained Her Majesty's Government expect either that charges should be preferred and the accused brought to trial or that he be speedily released. Moreover, my right hon. Friend has brought to the attention of the South African Ambassador the very serious view which this House takes of the detention without trial of British subjects in other countries.
§ Mr. Whitehead
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that not the least disturbing feature about this scandalous case is the grave concern about Mr. Jacobsen's state of health? Will he use the good offices of the British High Commission in South Africa to ensure that Mr. Jacobsen is given proper medical care?
§ Mr. Royle
We are concerned about Mr. Jacobsen's state of health. He is showing signs of strain as a result of his continued detention but he has made no complaints about his treatment. We shall ensure that our consul, when he visits Mr. Jacobsen, looks very closely at this aspect of his detention.
§ Mr. Marten
If the Government view detentions like that of Mr. Jacobsen with grave concern, why did not they protest about the detention of British subjects in Brussels last Saturday?