Friday 22 September 2017

Tortured Kenyans can pursue Britain for damages

Estelle Shirbon London

A BRITISH court has ruled that three elderly Kenyans who were tortured under British rule in the 1950s can pursue their claim for damages from London, a judgment likely to encourage other claims from victims of colonial-era brutality.

Britain, which had tried for three years to block their action, said it was disappointed and planned to appeal, while lawyers for the claimants warned that the ruling would be studied carefully by victims of other alleged colonial crimes.

Now in their 70s and 80s, the claimants suffered castration, rape and beatings while in detention during a ruthless crackdown by British forces and their Kenyan allies on rebels from the Mau Mau movement fighting for land and freedom.

The trio want Britain to apologise and to fund welfare benefits for Kenyan victims of torture by colonial forces. They were not in court yesterday to hear the ruling.

Honourable

"I have reached the conclusion . . . that a fair trial on this part of the case does remain possible and that the evidence on both sides remains significantly cogent for the court to complete its task satisfactorily," said Judge Richard McCombe.

"The documentation is voluminous . . . and the government and the military commanders seem to have been meticulous record-keepers."

Dozens of supporters hugged each other and wept for joy at the back of the court in London following the ruling, and lawyers for the Kenyans said it was a historic judgment.

"Following this judgment we can but hope that our government will at last do the honourable thing and resolve these claims," said Martyn Day, a lawyer for the claimants.

"There will undoubtedly be victims of colonial torture from Malaya to the Yemen, from Cyprus to Palestine, who will be reading this judgment with great care."

The Foreign Office said it was disappointed and believed the judgment had potentially far-reaching legal implications.

Irish Independent

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