Mau Mau fighters who suffered rape, castration and beatings in Kenya's uprising against Britain to get £14million compensation

By Staff 0

  • Negotiations began after a court ruling in favour of three Kenyans
  • They suffered castration, rape and beatings while detained in 1950s
  • Torture took place during so-called Kenyan 'Emergency' of 1952-60
  • Formal announcement on terms expected as early as tomorrow

By Leon Watson

PUBLISHED: 12:02 EST, 5 June 2013 | UPDATED: 12:05 EST, 5 June 2013

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Britain has agreed on a multi-million dollar compensation settlement for thousands of Kenyans tortured by colonial forces during an uprising at the tail end of the British Empire, a lawyer and expert witness said today.

Negotiations began after a London court ruled in October that three elderly Kenyans, who suffered castration, rape and beatings while in detention during a crackdown by British forces and their Kenyan allies in the 1950s, could sue Britain.

The torture took place during the so-called Kenyan 'Emergency' of 1952-60, when fighters from the Mau Mau movement attacked British targets, causing panic among white settlers and alarming the government in London.

Campaign for justice: Kenyans (L-R) Wambugu Wa Nyingi, Jane Muthoni, Paulo Nzili and Ndiku Mutua stand outside the High Court in April, 2011

Campaign for justice: Kenyans (L-R) Wambugu Wa Nyingi, Jane Muthoni, Paulo Nzili and Ndiku Mutua stand outside the High Court in April, 2011

'We have agreed on an out-of-court settlement,' Kenyan lawyer Paul Muite, an advisor to the Mau Mau veterans seeking compensation, said.

'(The negotiations) have included everybody with sufficient evidence of torture. And that number is about 5,200,' he said, declining to comment on the size of the payout.

A formal announcement on the settlement is expected as early as Thursday. Britain's foreign office declined to comment on reports that the settlement would total £14million.

This would work out at about £2,600 - or 339,560 Kenyan shillings - per claimant in a country where average national income per capita is around 70,000 shillings.

The Mau Mau nationalist movement originated in the 1950s among the Kikuyu people of Kenya. Its loyalists advocated violent resistance to British domination of the country.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission has estimated 90,000 Kenyans were killed or maimed and 160,000 detained during the uprising.

Uprising: British police Guarding Mau Mau suspects in Kariobangi, Kenya, on April 28, 1953

Uprising: British police Guarding Mau Mau suspects in Kariobangi, Kenya, on April 28, 1953

A British police officer examines the corpse of a Mau Mau soldier lying on the ground during the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya

A British police officer examines the corpse of a Mau Mau soldier lying on the ground during the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya

London tried for three years to block the Mau Mau veterans' legal action in the courts, drawing condemnation from the elderly torture victims who accused Kenya's former colonial master of using legal technicalities to fight the case.

Caroline Elkins, a Harvard history professor who acted as an expert witness in the case launched in 2009, said the settlement would be the first of its kind for the former British Empire.

'(It) should be seen as a triumph,' Elkins said during a visit to Nairobi for the British announcement.

Elkins wrote the book 'Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya' which served as the basis for the Mau Mau case.

Britain had first said that responsibility for events during the Mau Mau uprising passed to Kenya upon its independence in 1963, an argument which London courts rejected.

The government then said the claim was brought long after the legal time limit. But a judge in October's ruling said there was ample documentary evidence to make a fair trial possible.

 

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