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Mau Mau claims case covered by Times

UK newspaper looks at Kenyan claims case

Photo: Sven Torfinn Photography

6 April 2011

The leader in the Times on 5th April 2011 reads “Crimes of Colonialism” while the front page leads with “50 years later: Britain’s Kenya cover-up revealed.”

The newspaper refers to a vast cache of documents relating to the allegations of systematic torture by British Colonial officials in the run up to independence which have now been uncovered, having been kept in secret Government archives for decades.

These documents have been released as a result of a case brought by Leigh Day & Co who is representing a number of elderly Kenyans, all of whom are in their 70s and 80s.  They allege that they were assaulted and tortured while detained for a number of years during the brutal repression of the Kenyan independence movement by the British Colonial Government in the 1950s and early 1960s.

The British government is trying to strike out the claims on the grounds that the Kenyan government is legally responsible for any abuses committed by the British colony.  The government states that all liabilities were transferred to the Kenyan Republic upon independence in 1963 which is flatly denied by the Kenyan Government.

Today’s leader in the Times says:

“…the response to the Mau Mau  uprising that began in 1952 was by any objective standards a dark side in this nation’s history…the cover up of those events could not last and needs now to be faced”.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has also reacted angrily to the stance the British Government has taken in this case

.In my view, the British Government's attempt to pin liability on Kenya for British colonial torture represents an intolerable abdication of responsibility. Britain’s insistence that international human rights standards should be respected by governments around the world will sound increasingly hollow if the door is shut in the face of these known victims of British torture.”

Government agrees to make public records of Government actions in Kenya in Mau Mau case starting 7.4.11

In further developments the Times on 6th April 2011 reported that Lord Howell of Guildford, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, reported to the House of Lords that “as a result of searches in connection with a legal case brought by Kenyan Mau Mau veterans against the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the FCO has decided to regularise the position of some 2,000 boxes of files it currently holds, mainly from the 1950s and 1960s”.

Lord Howell confirmed that the Foreign Office holds more than 8,000 files from 35 former British administrations, including Kenya and that the government planned to make “as much of this material as possible available to the wider public”, although he noted that the files would be “reviewed”, in a process that “may take some years”.

The case is due to be heard at the High Court on Thursday, 7th April 2011 at 10.30 am.

Daniel Leader
, Counsel at Leigh Day, is leading the Kenya torture claims case.  For more information please contact David Roberts or Rebekah Read on 020 7650 1200.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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