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Friday, 10 May 1985
Page: 1761


Senator JESSOP —I direct a question to the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to an earlier answer he gave in relation to the unfortunate deaths of two black South Africans who were apparently in custody at the time. As the Minister is apparently a full bottle on this subject, can he inform me of the number of deaths that occurred under similar circumstances yesterday in Libya, Ethiopia, North Korea, Angola, Kampuchea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Siberia? Can the Minister say whether coronial inquiries are carried out in any of those countries?


Senator GARETH EVANS —I cannot answer the honourable senator's rhetorical question, but what I can do is acknowledge that that question on his part demonstrates once again the supreme insensitivity that he and so many of his colleagues, but he in particular, have had towards the appalling situation that prevails in South Africa. The apartheid regime is a contemptible regime and its undermining is not advanced by apologists for it in this place.


Senator JESSOP —I ask a supplementary question. Is the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs aware of the coronial inquiry that is taking place in South Africa and are coronial inquiries carried out in similar circumstances in any of the other countries that I mentioned?


Senator GARETH EVANS —I am well aware of the results of some earlier coronial inquiries in that country and the way in which they have been assessed by objective observers outside the country to have been somewhat less than assiduous in their pursuit of the truth of the circumstances of the deaths of the men and women in question. I do not resile at all from anything that I said in my previous answer nor in my reaction to the questioner.