News / Africa

Mau Mau Ruling Sets Legal Precedent

Kenyan Mau Mau War veterans and their supporters celebrate the announcement of a legal decision in Britain's High Court concerning Mau Mau veterans in Nairobi, Kenya, October 5, 2012.
Kenyan Mau Mau War veterans and their supporters celebrate the announcement of a legal decision in Britain's High Court concerning Mau Mau veterans in Nairobi, Kenya, October 5, 2012.
Roopa Gogineni
A British High Court ruling that colonial atrocities in Kenya are not bound by a time limit has a legal precedent.

British High Court Justice Richard McCombe ruled last Friday that Britain's Foreign Office must face a lawsuit filed by Kenyans who were tortured during the final days of British colonial rule.

Veterans from Kenya’s Mau Mau anti-colonial movement gathered Friday in Nairobi to await the High Court’s decision. George Morara, the program officer at the Kenya Human Rights Commission in charge of the case, received the call from London.
 
“We have won our case,” he told the crowd in Swahili.

Detentions and torture

Historians estimate 150,000 suspected Mau Mau fighters and their supporters were detained during Kenya’s so-called "emergency" period. Many of them suffered acts of torture at the hands of colonial authorities.  

Paolo Nzili - one of the claimants in today’s case, who joined the Mau Mau movement at the age of 27 - told his story through a translator.

"While in Nairobi we were picked up by a group of freedom fighters. They gave us arms, we fought in that forest until we were attacked one day and then we were dispersed in the forest," he said.
 
He was discovered by colonial authorities and promptly arrested.

"I was arrested holding the gun. I was taken to Kwaluvai, and that is where I was destroyed, in other words, I was castrated," said Nzili.

Door now open for suits

Because of Friday’s ruling, Nzili, now 85 years old, has the right to sue the British government for the abuses he suffered more than 50 years ago.

During the three-year legal battle, lawyers representing the foreign office argued that too much time had passed to hold a fair trial.

Morara explained the foreign office’s defense.

"Most of those people who would have come before the court to give evidence have died and the ones who are still alive have a poor recollection of those events, and therefore it’s not possible to give a fair trial," he said was the other side's reasoning.

Justice Richard McCombe rejected this claim, highlighting that recently declassified colonial archives contain ample evidence to proceed to full trial.
 
The Mau Mau are asking for reparations and a formal apology. Gitu wa Kahengeri, the spokesperson for the Mau Mau War Veterans Association, explained.

"We are looking for compensation for all of the people whose lives they have destroyed," he said. "We are also looking for them to come out and apologize to the people of Kenya and, of course, to the people of the world because what they did here is completely inhuman."  

Colonial-era abuses targeted

Kahengeri believes this case has set a precedent.

"If they did atrocities to the people of other countries as well, this is an atrocity against human beings, therefore, they must pay for that.  That is my belief,” he said.

Claims of abuse under colonial rule are now emerging from many of Britain's former colonies, from Cyprus to Guyana.

In Malaysia, the relatives of 24 villagers killed in 1948 during an alleged massacre at Batang Kali are seeking a public inquiry and compensation.

The archive discovered by historians researching the Mau Mau uprising contains documents from several other former British colonies.

You May Like

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Oathing & Rites
October 09, 2012 3:10 PM
Perhaps the Judge would do well to familiarise himself with what exactly the Mau Mau Campaign was all about and then give an opinion. He does not appear to be well versed in this period.

In Response

by: Dee
October 15, 2012 8:41 AM
Hopefully some justice for British crimes, going into countries you don't belong and were not wanted, stealing land and trading and torturing and killing. Hopefully all countries get justice and Britain gets seen for the country it has been, I'm British and ashamed of it.


by: Thorpy from: Melbourne , Australia
October 08, 2012 11:41 PM
Maybe all the people Britain transported out to Australia in the early days as convicts and held in dreadful conditions will be able to make a claim under this decision.


by: Justice
October 08, 2012 2:22 PM
What about reparation for those people whose families were murdered by the Mau Mau? Perhaps this learned Judge would do well to assist Zimbabweans. Dont know whether Historians
would be able to find the documents mmm

In Response

by: falamangaa from: Kenya
October 08, 2012 4:40 PM
Germany is still paying for its crimes during the holocaust which was much earlier than this incident. Britain needs to pay for its crimes.
The British in Kenya were said to be the most brutal in the whole British empire and stole Kenyan land and renamed it white highlands.
They raped, maimed, castrated, assaulted women and children, shot, clubbed, decapitated, hanged, buried people alive, burned people alive. They were real animals.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid