, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 13 – The government has pledged to meet the cost of prosecuting a court case in London where Kenyan freedom fighters have sued the British government for torture during the suppression of the Mau Mau rebellion.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga said on Friday that the claimants – four men and one woman in their 70s and 80s – had a genuine case in seeking compensation and a statement of regret for the treatment they suffered, including, torture, forced labour and beatings.
The four have sued the British government for compensation over torture. They left the country for the UK last Sunday, for the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London from Monday to July 27.
The four former Mau Mau fighters Ndiku Mutua, Paulo Nzili, Wambugu wa Nyingi and Jane Mara, who are in their 70s and 80s, were in London mid-last year to hear the ruling on whether the British government could still be sued over crimes committed during the colonial era.
Back in Kenya, PM Odinga met with members of the Meru business community and stated that these men and woman put their lives on the line, undergoing unspeakable acts of torture and abuse to liberate this country.
“We must not forget the treatment they endured that left them with devastating and lifelong injuries,” he said
Before the Kenyans departed for the UK, Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) Senior Programme Officer Tom Kagwe took issue with the way the government has handled the Mau Mau war veterans request for assistance as their case against alleged torture is heard in Britain.
“Despite assurances of both financial and political support by our government, no help has been forthcoming,” Kagwe said.
He called on the government to priorities the issue as the Mau Mau veterans underwent a lot of suffering to liberate the country.
“They (the government) made pledges that they will give us necessary political and financial support. Without doubt, the political support has come in terms of them recognising that it is an important case for the Kenyan people and the Kenyan government. We however need especially the Prime Minister to work together with the President to ensure that we have the necessary financial muscle,” he said.
Kagwe also urged the government to arrange for the transfer of Kenyan documents that were discovered at the Hanslope Park as they make up part of the national history.
The first phase of the case which took place in April last year gave a lifeline to the war veterans, after the court ruled that they had a solid case.
The High Court heard that Mutua and Nzili had been castrated, Nyingi was beaten unconscious in an incident in which 11 men were clubbed to death, and Mara had been subjected to appalling sexual abuse.
The British government had argued through her lawyers that the former freedom fighters should have instead sued the Kenya government, which took over all liabilities after Independence.
The High Court in London, however, ruled that the British government could still be sued and gave the four applicants the go-ahead to sue over brutality they allegedly suffered in the hands of the colonial army during the 1950s uprising.
The case emanates from allegations of torture and mistreatments of people perceived to be members or sympathisers of Mau movement. The alleged inhuman treatments were carried out in detention camps between 1952 and 1961.
High Court Judge Justice McCombe had said in his judgment that there was “ample evidence” to show there may have been “systematic torture of detainees during the Emergency”.