Kenyans threaten UK colonial abuse suit

2012-02-08 22:33

Nairobi - Thousands of elderly Kenyans are preparing to sue the British government over abuses - including torture, illegal detentions and rape - its forces allegedly committed during its suppression of a 1950s anti-colonial rebellion, a lawyer representing the group said on Wednesday.

The group of Kenyans is motivated by the progress of a case by four other elderly Kenyans, who were given the go-ahead by a British court last year to sue the UK government for alleged abuses during its colonial occupation of Kenya, said lawyer Donald Rabala.

The British government had tried to have the case by the four thrown out, saying it could not be held legally responsible for the long-ago abuses. It argues that all the powers and liabilities of the colonial administration passed to the Kenyan government on independence in 1963.

Rabala said his firm has taken statements from more than 6 000 people who claim to have either been tortured, detained illegally, raped, forcefully displaced from their land, among other abuses.

Rabala said his firm, with the help of a UK law firm, is collecting more statements from Kenyans allegedly held by the British in detention camps after a 1952 uprising led by a militia group known as the Mau Mau.

Britain imposed a state of emergency that lasted until 1959.

"The victims know some of the names of those who raped them, tortured them. They have scars and some have documents showing when they were incarcerated and where," Rabala said.

He said he expects the British government to settle the case out of court because if it goes to trial it will consume a lot of time and taxpayer money.

Obama's grandfather detained

During the uprising in 1952, Prime Minister Winston Churchill sent British soldiers to help colonial administrators capture the Mau Mau fighters and send them to detention camps. African soldiers under the King's African Rifles regiment also took part in the assault on the Mau Mau and their supporters.

President Barack Obama's grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, was one of thousands of Kenyans detained. Obama's grandfather died in 1979.

Among the 6 000 planning to sue is the wife of Dedan Kimathi, one of the most Mau Mau's most revered, Rabala said. British fighters arrested and hanged Kimathi. He has since been honored by the Kenyan government as a national hero.

His widow, Mukami Kimathi, was incarcerated by the British, according to Rabala, though he declined to go into the details of what she experienced during her detention.

The new potential cases were inspired by a ruling by British High Court Judge Richard McCombe, who last July found that the four Kenyans "have arguable cases in law," and their suits can go ahead.

Britain's Africa Minister Henry Bellingham said at the time that the government would continue to fight the claim, "given the length of time elapsed and the complex legal and constitutional questions the case raises".

He said Britain understood "the pain and grievance felt by those, on all sides, who were involved in the divisive and bloody events of the Emergency period in Kenya".

  • mundu.olewega - 2012-02-08 23:25

    Yeah ? and who do the Colonial farmers sue for the rape and throats cut by the Mau Mau and their supporters?

      primetimeacc - 2012-02-09 05:44

      and dont forget all the poor farm workers who had terror applied to them to support the Mau Mau.

      Robin - 2012-02-09 06:28

      Right. Since when did terrorists gain the right to claim compensation(sic!)? Do my murdered friends also get something?

      Citizen - 2012-02-09 07:29

      What's happened is simple they have no money so they have come up with this bright idea to sue Britain to 'bolster' their pensions...

      Robin - 2012-02-09 10:28

      @Citizen: Just as there are some who greedily try to extort cash from the 'first world' on the grounds that their(sic!) global warming creation is causing them distress!

  • Godfrey - 2012-02-09 07:22

    I want to sure the Italians (for the Roman invasion and suppression of the good people of Wales) and the French (for the Norman Invasion and suppression of the good people of Wales) and the Germans (for frightening my mother and father during the blitz). They must have killed some of my forbears family and buddies.

      Godfrey - 2012-02-09 07:37

      Sue - no sure :(

  • Henri James Christie - 2012-02-09 07:31

    A poor excuse for being incompetent, 62 years down the line.

  • Tom - 2012-02-09 09:19

    As usual, the comments on this forum neglect to acknowledge the harmful legacy of Colonialism which contunues until today to stunt Africa. As usual the bulk of the people here have no pity for the victims of those superpowers who enslaved africans like animals to be usual, its a bunch of disgruntled people who hark for the bygone days of milk and honey for a priviledged few at the expense of the masses..... Now go ahead and report this comment as offensive and just like yesterday, the moderator will delete my comment because the truth is deemed to be ''offensive''.....

      Godfrey - 2012-02-09 10:18

      So what about the Romans, Normans and Germans and the despicable acts they perpetrated against the the Welsh - or is that in somewhat different? See my comment above).

      Adel - 2012-02-09 11:31

      Can I then also claim for my grandmother who died in the Consentration camps during the Boer wars?

      John - 2012-02-09 14:06

      Please explain how colonialism "stunted" Africa? During the period of colonization the wheel hadn't even been "invented" in Africa. In order to remain balanced you need to also acknowledge the benefits brought to Africa. Lets not blame all the wrongs of Africa on the Colonists. Also keep in mind the billions that are pumped into this continent in support of famine, hunger, drought relief, development etc.

  • faerrab - 2012-02-09 09:40

    The "Usual Supsects" will however support Jews (and maybe Japs) still being compensated for WW2 and support the assasination of former Nazis. Jews are not black so no incompetance in their claims and rights . Robin do the hundreds of thousands of Germans civillians murdered by the Allies recieve compensation ?

      Robin - 2012-02-09 10:25

      @faerrab: My point exactly. Following conflict of any sort; be it war, insurgency or armed terrorist activity, both sides need to lick their wounds and make a new start. Compensation doesn't enter into things, not for a few aggrieved Kenyans, not for the millions who were maimed or died from various causes during and after WW-II and certainly not for those who still carry an anti-colonialism chip on their shoulder and probably have little objective understanding of history.

  • Passionate.Parrot - 2012-02-09 09:51

    Yes, what about the colonialists who lost farms, land, both in Kenya, and what about the farmers in Rhodesia who were killed, I know of one at least killed by children when he went to the gate on his farm. Why is always the black people who want repatriation? Always wanting something for their pain. They are not the only ones. Get real this is live just carry on.

      J.p. - 2012-02-09 10:58

      Parrot, Rhodesian farmers were the colonialists. How many of them declined their British passports and became true and dedicated citizens of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe without keeping open a backdoor? I do not hold any other passport but South African as backstop because I have dedicated myself to this continent regardless of how 'bad' or good things might be or may become. Britain, Germany, France, etc reaped this continent of much of its wealth with cheap (often forced) labour and did not plough anything back into it. Infrastructure was not created to benefit the indigenous people, but to maintain a lifestyle of comfort and leisure by the intruders at the cost of Africa's people... and then they could not understand when people said that they wanted to get rid of the colonialists. The aggressors were not Kenyans or the Matabele at Bulawayo, etc. The aggressors were the people who have enslaved Africa's people without any regards to their culture, religion, etc. Would you be happy if China colonises South Africa, remove you from your land/home without compensation and force you to stay in a squatter camp under the worst thinkable conditions. I will put up one hell of a fight!

  • John - 2012-02-09 14:10

    I sense an attorney looking at making wads of bucks at the expense of the "down trodden".

  • Robin - 2012-02-09 18:25


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