Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mau Mau Kenyans allowed to sue UK government.

The High Court said the group could seek damages over their treatment during the 1950s and 60s. Mr Justice McCombe said the claimants had an "arguable case" and it would be "dishonourable" to block the claims.
Ministers say the UK government is not responsible for the actions of the colonial administration. The decision means that the government will have to defend accusations of torture, murder, sexual assault and other alleged abuses at a full damages trial in 2012.

In a crucial twist earlier this year, academics discovered some 17,000 previously unseen documents in the foreign office’s archives. The papers include details of atrocities in reports to Whitehall which were seen by ministers in the 1950s and 1960s. Some of the documents implicate British colonial officials in atrocities and acts of abuse in detention camps set up to smash the pre-independence uprising.
“The four Kenyans, Ndiku Mutwiwa Mutua, Paulo Muoka Nzili, Wambugu Wa Nyingi and Jane Muthoni Mara, all in their 70s and 80s, say the documents form a paper trail proving that ministers in London approved of systematic abuse in the special camps. A fifth claimant has died since the action began. Earlier this year, the High Court heard that Mr Mutua and Mr Nzili had been castrated, Mr Nyingi was beaten unconscious in an incident in which 11 men were clubbed to death, and Mrs. Mara had been subjected to appalling sexual abuse.
Mr. Justice McCombe said: "I have decided that the claimants have arguable cases, fit for trial. "I emphasise that I have not found that there was systematic torture in the Kenyan camps nor that, if there was, the UK government is liable to detainees, such as the claimants, for what happened. "I have simply decided that these five claimants have arguable cases in law and on the facts as presently known. "He said there was "ample evidence" to show there may have been "systematic torture of detainees during the Emergency".
Martyn Day, solicitor for the Kenyans, said the ruling was a historic judgment - and his clients were a step closer. "Over 50 years ago our clients suffered the most terrible torture at the hands of the British Colonial regime," he said. "Our clients have been battling for years to obtain justice for what they endured. Our government has seemed hell-bent on preventing that happening. "They want some sort of justice, an apology, some sort of money that would give them peace in their final years."
"They tortured our people, raped our people, castrated our people," he said. "There is no evil they did not do. These atrocities are the cause of the case. We want them to pay for that," Mr. Wa Kahengeri said.
Mr. Justice McCombe has given the government until the autumn to prepare a defence - but has also given permission for it to argue that the cases should be ruled as out-of-time.

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