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Memorial to Kenyan torture victims unveiled in Nairobi

Memorial funded by the UK Government to remember those Kenyans tortured by British troops during the Kenyan emergency unveiled in Nairobi

12 September 2015

Over 25,000 people attended the unveiling of a memorial in Nairobi to the many thousands of Kenyans who suffered torture and abuse at the hands of British forces during the colonial era (1952 – 1960).

The memorial was unveiled on Saturday 12th September 2015, at Freedom Corner in Uhuru Park in Nairobi. It has been built from funds provided by the British Government as part of a settlement in response to a court case brought by Leigh Day in London.

Crowds in Uhuru Park, Nairobi to witness the unveiling

As a result of the case, the Government was forced to admit that thousands of Kenyans had been subjected to torture, and other forms of ill-treatment, at the hands of the British colonial administration during the Kenya Emergency.

Former Prime Minister the Rt Hon Raila Odinga said that “History has brought together the British and Kenyan Governments.”

Dr Christian Turner, the High Commissioner in Nairobi, said: “The memorial stands as a symbol of reconciliation between the British Government, the Mau Mau, and all those who suffered during the Emergency Period. It is an acknowledgement of the difficult parts of our shared history encompassed in a spirit of reconciliation and respect.”

The legal team who fought for the memorial and for compensation on behalf of those affected were present at the unveiling, including Daniel Leader from Leigh Day and Richard Hermer QC from Matrix Chambers. The legal case was brought against the UK Government by law firm Leigh Day on behalf of 5,200 Kenyans.

In 2013 the UK Government finally admitted that torture had taken place and expressed ‘regret’ for the actions of British Forces.

Gitu Kahengeri speaking flanked from left to right by: - Dan Leader from Leigh Day, Paul Muite, Phillippa Kaufmann QC and Richard Hermer QC from Matrix Chambers and Gitobu Imanyara

Martyn Day, Senior Partner at Leigh Day and the lawyer for those Kenyans who brought their case to the UK High Court, said: “We are extremely proud to have been involved, through the four-year legal battle against the UK Government, in this historic event.

“The dedication of this memorial to those Kenyans who suffered unspeakable abuse during the Kenyan emergency marks the end of a long, hard struggle for justice. A battle which took two high court defeats against the Government before it conceded that our clients had been tortured by British forces.

"As William Hague said at the time of the settlement, in 2013, the strength of a democracy can be gauged by its willingness to learn from its past. This memorial will stand as a stark reminder of Britain’s past and should serve all nations as a lesson from history.

“We will stand proudly alongside The Kenyan Human Rights Commission and the Mau Mau War Veterans Association in remembrance at the ceremony."

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