NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 7 – Four former Mau Mau fighters who have sued the British government for compensation over torture are scheduled to travel to the UK on Sunday, a week before the hearing of their case starts.
The hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London will be heard from July 16 to 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.
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 Mau movement. The alleged inhuman treatments were carried out in detention camps between 1952 and 1961.
The second team consisting of the Mau Mau War Veterans Association Spokesperson Gitu Wa kahengeri, John Nottingham and Muthoni Wanyeki who are both witnesses in the Mau Mau case and their legal advisor Paul Muite will leave Nairobi for London, next week Sunday.
Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) Senior Programme Officer Tom Kagwe said on Saturday that they will focus on issues of Statute Limitation.
“The second phase which we are beginning and embarking on between the 16th and 27th of July this year is to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the statute of limitation cannot be applied in cases as important as this,” he pointed out.
“International law is very clear where there are human rights violations which have no limitation by law and these include torture, cruel and inhuman and degrading treatment.”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.
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”.
Kagwe described the ruling as a breakthrough in Kenyan history since the decision meant that the British government will have to defend accusations of torture, murder, sexual assault and other alleged abuses
“The first phase was on state succession and was a very clear judgment. It was a great breakthrough in fact to argue and win against the Queen’s Counsel on the issue of the state succession and they lost miserably because that was one of their main arguments that the Kenya government took over all obligations after the British Colonial government disappeared,” he observed.
He also 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 prioritise the issue as the Mau Mau veterans underwent a lot of suffering to liberate the country.
“They made pledges that they will give us necessary political and financial support. Without doubt, the political support has come in terms of them recognizing 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.
“Essentially what we are looking for is justice. It is not about what people have said about compensation. It is a matter of historical injustice that all these old men and women have suffered under the colonial system,” he emphasised.