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13 Jun 2013

Kenya: UK gov’t to compensate and apologize to Mau Mau victims

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June 13, 2013 Category: Week In Review Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO: Mau Mau veterans listen at a press conference announcing a settlement in their legal case for compensation against the British Government, in Nairobi, Kenya, Thursday, June 6, 2013. The British government Thursday announced compensation for more than 5,200 Kenyans abused during the “Mau Mau” rebellion against colonial rule in the 1950s, in a package worth nearly 20 million pounds ($31 million).

(AP Photo/Ben Curtis)


News from Africa


LONDON–The UK government is expected to announce compensation for and express regrets to the victims who were tortured during the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya in the independence struggle.


UK Foreign Secretary William Hague will announce the £20m ($31 million U.S. dollars) compensation package in the House of Commons and thereafter express “sincere regret” to the more than 5000 victims who have been fighting for reparation from the UK government.


The Mau Mau uprising which emerged in the 1950s fought bitter battles with then the British administration demanding for land and end of the oppressive colonial rule. The victims say they were mistreated-some through torture and other abuses while in detention.


The Mau Mau case becomes the first compensation settlement resulting from the official crimes committed under the British colonial rule.


One claimant Mwai Wanughigi in reaction to the compensation scheme said there had been no consultation over the amount they would receive. He said the £3,200 (350,000 Kenyan shillings) per claimant would be inadequate.


“These people were relocated, deprived of everything, today they are not able to buy anything when you give them 350,000 Kenyan shillings – and I assure everybody, that figure is not acceptable by any standard,” he told the BBC News agency.


The case traces its course back in 2002 when the Kenyan government lifted the ban on Mau Mau, that the survivors of the torture began considering legal action. It was not until 2008 when the survivors sought for permission from the High Court in London to sue the British government for damages.


It is in October last year, the court ruled the victims had established a proper case and allowed their claims to proceed to trial despite the time elapsed.


The British government held that the claim should not be heard, arguing that the Mau Mau veterans should sue the Kenyan government instead, under the legal principle of state succession.


The success of the Mau Mau case follows discovery of crucial documents which theUK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) had kept hidden for decades. The secret papers revealed that senior colonial officials had authorised appalling abuses of inmates held at the prison camps established at the height of the rebellion.


One survivor Wambugu WaNyingi told the high court in London last year during the case that he was detained on the Christmas eve of 1952 and held for nine years, much of the time in shackles. He was beaten unconscious during a particularly notorious massacre at a camp at Hola in which 11 men died.


The Mau Mau rebellion consisted of a diverse movement within the Kikuyu, Embu and Meru areas of Kenya’s central highlands.Support for the rebellion came from those who objected to Britain’s imperial presence, from agricultural workers denied land ownership, and from Nairobi’s unemployed. 


The Kenya Human Rights Commission says 90,000 Kenyans were executed, tortured or maimed, and 160,000 people were detained in appalling conditions.


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