Mau Mau take UK to court

13 April 2011 by Richard Walker

On Thursday the British High Court began hearing claims of torture and brutality perpetrated by British staff on Kenyan Mau Mau rebels in the 1950s.

Lawyers said British officials committed grave acts of torture, including castration and severe sexual assault.The case was first brought to court by victims two years ago, when the British government argued that it had no jurisdiction to hear the case. The court disagreed. Now the UK Foreign Office contends there is no case to answer because it has no liability.

The UK government argues, “in passing sovereignty to the Kenyan government in December 1963, it passed on all responsibility for any outstanding legal cases,” according to Oxford University’s David Anderson, who’s been helping prepare the case for the Mau Mau claimants.

This means that the British view is that the Kenyan government is liable and it is up to the Kenyan courts to deal with such cases. The British government argues that in signing the Kenyan declaration of independence in 1963 it extricated itself from any actions that took place under its rule.

“Believe me that is the position they have taken. It seems to me just a completely unethical, immoral and frankly ridiculous stance”, says David Anderson.

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