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September 4, 1929 High Commissioner of Palestine Mandate Enacts Courts Ordinance

High Commissioner Enacts Courts OrdinanceSir John Chancellor, High Commissioner of Palestine Mandate:

I have yesterday enacted, as a measure of public urgency, the Courts (Amendment) Ordinance, 1929, to provide that the Courts of trial for criminal cases arising out of the recent disorders shall be composed of British judges.

Representations have been made to me, which point to a belief in the minds of certain people that the trial of persons charged with criminal acts is to be confined to one section of the population. This belief does not correctly interpret the intentions of Government, which are that, since crime of various descriptions are known to have been perpetrated by both Arabs and Jews, all offenders without distinction of race or creed will be brought to trail before the Courts to be set up under the Ordinance enacted by me yesterday.

The Secretary of State for the Colonies has today made the following announcement:

“Instructions were issued some days ago by the Palestine Government for the collection of evidence before it disappeared as to whether the disorders which commenced on the 23rd (of) August were spontaneous or preconcert. In the meantime while His Majesty’s Forces are actively co-operating with the Palestine Government in restoring order, energetic steps are being taken by the civil authorities to bring to trial guilty individuals. Many arrests have been made and considerable progress has already been made in dealing with summary cases. Special measures are being taken to provide for impartial tribunals to cope with what will probably be a large number of cases.

At the request of the High Commissioner the Secretary of State for the Colonies is appointing a commission of inquiry which will proceed to Palestine this month to inquire into the immediate causes which have led to the recent outbreak, including the extent to which it may be regarded as having been preconcerted or due to organized action.

The chairman of the commission will be Sir Walter Shaw, late Chief Justice of the Straits Settlements, and there will be associated with him three Members of Parliament, selected one from each of the three political parties.

In view of the suggestions which have been made in certain quarters, the secretary of state desires to make it clear that his majesty’s government have no idea of reconsidering the British tenure of the mandate for Palestine, and that no inquiry is contemplated which might alter the position of this country in regard to the mandate or policy, laid down in the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and embodied in the Mandate, of establishing in Palestine a national home for the Jews.

The Inquiry now initiated is therefore limited to the immediate emergency and will not extend to considerations of major policy. When its report has been received it will be a matter of earnest consideration by His Majesty’s Government along what lines, within the terms of the Mandate, future policy in Palestine should be directed”

J.R. Chancellor High Commissioner and Commander-in-Chief

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