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 Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid