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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid