The journey to justice has been long and arduous. For over ten years (since 2003), the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and the Mau Mau War Veterans Association (MMWVA) have remained focused and relentless in their fight for justice for the Kenyan victims of colonial torture as well as for the rightful recognition of our liberation heroes within Kenya’s body politic. It is that focus and relentless commitment from the KHRC and the MMWVA that has yielded the victory—an out of court settlement with the British Government; an apology from the British Government; and the funding of a memorial from the British Government—that we celebrate today.
The KHRC has been working with the victims of colonial era torture since 2003, shortly after the Mau Mau movement had been un-proscribed. Prior to 2003 it had not been possible for victims to organise themselves and pursue a claim on behalf of survivors of the camps, since it had been unlawful to organize or take part in any activity of or on behalf of the Mau Mau society.
It was only once this ban was lifted that those who had suffered during the Emergency were able to form the Mau Mau War Veterans Association (MMWVA). The formation of the MMWVA saw the beginning of a slow and difficult process of identifying genuine survivors of the detention camps.
The KHRC contacted Leigh Day & Co. Advocates in London on behalf of the MMWVA who then moved to court to institute the case against the British Government, aprocess that has been riddled with a number of hurdles from the British Government including arguments on succession and limitation. However, on October 5, 2012 when the Royal Courts ruled that the case could go to full trial, which was a glimmer of hope that finally wheels of justice were rolling.
The protracted negotiations with the British Government took place after the Limitation judgment. Yesterday, the Government announced that they were abandoning their appeal and:
- Made a statement to Parliament in London and to the victims in person in Nairobi acknowledging for the first time that Kenyans had been subjected to torture and other forms of ill-treatment at the hands of the colonial administration and expressed “sincere regret” that these abuses had taken place.
- Agreed to pay compensation of £2,600 per claimant, amounting to a total of £13.9 million.
- Agreed to finance the construction of a memorial in Kenya to the victims of colonial era torture.
- Agreed to pay the legal costs of the case to ensure the claimants received all the agreed monies.
The proposed deal was put to all 5,200 Claimants and not one has turned it down. They have expressed delight that the world is now aware of the injustice they endured and that, at last, the British Government has acknowledged the wrong which was done to them.
The statement read by the British Foreign Secretary, Mr. William Hague is available on the British High Commission in Kenya’s website on:
Leigh Day& Co. have prepared a media brief which is available on http://www.khrc.or.ke/resources/publications/doc_details/61-long-march-for-justiceleigh-day-a-co-media-briefing.html
The Leigh Day & Co. statement is also available on http://www.khrc.or.ke/media-centre/press-releases/145-lawyers-statement-in-response-to-the-british-government-announcement.html