Four Mau Mau Kenyans Allowed To Sue British Government
Four Kenyans who claim they were tortured at the hands of colonial authorities during the Mau Mau rebellion have won the right to sue the British government at the High Court.
Judge Justice McCombe ruled on Thursday that the elderly claimants had an "arguable case", but it would be for a full trial to decide the verdict in due course.
Foreign Office documents released in May revealed how much ministers in London knew about the nature of how the 1950s rebellion was being crushed. The documents outline the roles of British officers implicated in the torturing and murdering of suspected Mau Mau rebels.
The claimants, Ndiku Mutwiwa Mutua, Paulo Muoka Nzili, Wambugu Wa Nyingi and Jane Muthoni Mara, are all in their 70s and 80s. They argue that the documents prove that London knew about the torture and abuse in colonial Kenya and claim that they were systematically abused in prison camps set up to crush the rebellion against British rule.
At an earlier hearing the judge was told that Mutua and Nzili had been castrated, Nyingi was beaten unconscious, and Mara had been subjected to appalling sexual abuse.
The Foreign Office (FCO) had insisted that it could not be liable because the events occurred outside of the UK and that Kenya had its own legal colonial government, which was responsible for the camps. It also argued that legal responsibility was transferred to the Kenyan Republic upon independence in 1963.
Speaking after Thursday's summary High Court judgement, Foreign Office Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham MP said despite the ruling the government would continue to defend its position.
“It is right that those who feel they have a case are free to take it to the courts. We understand the pain and grievance felt by those, on all sides, who were involved in the divisive and bloody events of the Emergency period.
“Despite today’s judgement, the government will continue to defend fully these proceedings given the length of time elapsed and the complex legal and constitutional questions the case raises. Our relationship with Kenya and its people has moved on since the Emergency period. We are now partners and the UK is one of the largest bilateral donors in Kenya”.