UK reaches settlement with Kenya torture victims

[JURIST] The UK government on Wednesday reached a settlement agreement with thousands of Kenyans tortured by British colonial forces during the 1950s. Negotiations began last October after the Queen's Bench Division [official website] on the High Court of England and Wales ruled [JURIST report] that three elderly Kenyans could sue the British government for torture they suffered while in detention under the British Colonial Administration. The victims alleged they had been tortured and sexually assaulted [Reuters report] by their captors during the Mau Mau uprising [Leigh Day & Co. backgrounder, DOC]. A formal announcement on the exact number of victims and amount of compensation included in the settlement is expected as early as Thursday.

The settlement agreement marks the culmination of a legal struggle that began in 2009. In July 2011 High Court Judge Richard McCombe rejected the government contention [JURIST report] that the alleged abuses occurred too long ago and that all liability of the colonial administration passed to the Kenyan government upon gaining independence in 1963. The Kenyans first sued the British government [JURIST report] in June 2009 to bring to court their allegations that they were abused in British Colonial prison camps. The Mau Mau rebellion was led by members of the largely impoverished Kikuyu tribe [Africa Guide backgrounder] and lasted from 1952-1960. The uprising was notorious for atrocities committed by both the rebels and British colonial forces. Official casualty figures eventually set the number of European deaths at 32 and the number of Kenyans killed at just over 11,000. Approximately 90,000 Kenyans were executed, tortured or maimed during the crackdown [AP report] against the Mau Mau, according to the Kenya Human Rights Commission [advocacy website].

 

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