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Mau Mau veterans take fight to the UK

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 1 – Victims of the colonial torture era will on Saturday leave for the United Kingdom to give an account of their experiences at the hands of the colonial British government at the High Court in London where hearings kick off next Wednesday. 

While addressing journalists on Friday, Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) senior advocacy officer, Tom Kagwe, said Leigh, Day and Company had been contracted to represent four victims, who suffered gross human rights violations during the colonial era.

He however noted that Britain was still pushing to have the application thrown out on grounds that the Kenyan government bore responsibility for any abuses committed at the time.

"They have not denied that violations occurred. They are simply arguing from a technical, legal point of view saying that the Kenyan government inherited this problem. They say that all liabilities were transferred to Kenya after it attained independence," he explained.

Mr Kagwe also commended the position taken by the Kenyan government regarding the matter saying Britain should concede liability. He argued that the British would be applying double standards if they threw out Kenya\’s quest for justice.

"Britain\’s insistence that international human rights standards be respected by governments around the world will sound increasingly hollow if the door is shut in the face of these known victims of British torture," Mr Kagwe said while quoting statements made by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The veterans also, through their spokesperson Gitu Kahengeri, refuted claims that the British government had offered them a financial settlement amounting to Sh7 trillion in order for them to drop the case.

Mr Kahengeri noted that the victims simply wanted justice for the crimes committed against them adding that the matter had not yet come up for mention in court.

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"We fought for this country and we were ready to die for it so that the colonialists would leave and allow us what rightfully belonged to us," he said.

He also challenged Kenya\’s youths to take up leadership positions in the country and steer it in the right direction.

Mr Kagwe added that the KHRC would continue assisting the victims list all the inhuman acts committed against them.

Widespread acts of brutality, ranging from murder sexual assaults and even castrations, were committed against Kenyans who were held in detention camps across the country. Camp guards are accused of engaging in regular beatings that often resulted in death.

In March 1959, 11 detainees are said to have been killed by the guards at a camp in Hola, Tana River. An inquest found that each death was caused by shock and haemorrhage due to multiple bruising. It is however difficult to document the exact number of Kenyans who lost their lives during the emergency.

When the Kenyan case at the UK was first filed (June 23, 2009), there were five lead claimants: Wambugu Nyingi, Jane Muthoni Mara, Ndiku Mutwiwa, Susan Ciongombe and Paul Nzili. Ms Ciongombe however passed away last year.

The claimants represent the wider community of elderly Kenyans who suffered during the colonial period.

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