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Kenyan victims of colonial torture to give evidence at the High Court in London

Further developments in Mau Mau claims case

Claimants outside High Court on 7.4.11 by Daniel Hughes

29 March 2011

Kenyan victims of colonial era torture will give evidence at the High Court in London at a hearing of their claims against the British Government starting on 7th April 2011.  

Leigh Day & Co represent four Kenyans who were victims of grave acts of torture at the hands of British officials during the Kenya Emergency in the 1950s and 1960s. The claimants have each suffered unspeakable acts of brutality, including castrations and severe sexual assaults. 

The claimants represent the wider community of hundreds of elderly Kenyans who are still alive and were the victim of abuses during the Emergency.  President Obama’s grandfather was among those who were detained and abused at the time. The claims are being supported by the Kenya Human Rights Commission and the Kenyan Government.

In this landmark case, the claimants, who are in their 70s and 80s, will travel 4,000 miles from rural Kenya to give evidence at the High Court in London starting on 7th April 2011 at 10.30am.

The British Government is seeking to strike out the claims on the grounds that it is the Kenyan Government who is legally responsible for any abuses committed by the British colony. They state that all liabilities were transferred to the Kenyan Republic upon independence in 1963.

The Kenyan Republic strongly refutes any suggestion that they are legally responsible for colonial era atrocities and urge the British Government to concede liability.

Leading human rights organisations and campaigners, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have written to the British Government and stated that:

“In our view, this [the British Government’s claim that Kenya is liable] 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”.

Dan Leader, Counsel at Leigh Day & Co said today:

 “This is an opportunity for the British Government to come to terms with the past and apologise to the victims and the Kenyan people for this grave historic wrong.   To seek to pin the liability for British torture onto the Kenyan Government is an appalling stance for the Government to take.  We hope that justice will prevail.”

For more information please contact Rebekah Read on 020 7650 1348.

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