UK Foreign Secretary Hague yesterday expressed ‘sincere regret’ and announced compensation totalling £19.9m for Kenyans who were tortured during the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya in the 1950s and 60s.
In a statement to MPs, Hague also announced plans to fund a permanent memorial to the victims in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
Martyn Day, senior partner at law firm Leigh Day, who represents the 5,200 Kenyan victims of colonial torture, welcomed the announcement ‘albeit that it comes after a four-year legal battle and two High Court defeats for the government’.
Day added: ‘During the run-up to Kenyan independence, thousands of Kenyans suffered horrific treatment in detention camps run by the colony. These crimes were committed by British colonial officials and have gone unrecognised and unpunished for decades.
‘They included castration, rape and repeated violence of the worst kind. Although they occurred many years ago, the physical and mental scars remain.
‘Many of those who were detained and tortured were never tried and had little or nothing to do with the Mau Mau insurgency.
‘The elderly victims of torture now at last have the recognition and justice they have sought for many years. For them, the significance of this moment cannot be over emphasised.’
He stressed: ‘This case has been a long, hard struggle for justice; taking four years and two court defeats for the government before they finally agreed to treat these victims of torture with the dignity they deserve.’
Day concluded: ‘We hope that this case will act as a reminder that there are human rights abuses so grave that they deserve recognition and redress even if the events in question happened many years ago.’
One survivor, Mwai Wanughigi, said there had been no consultation over the amount victims would receive. He said the figure, which is said to work out at about £2,700 per claimant, is inadequate.
The Kenya Human Rights Commission says 90,000 Kenyans were executed, tortured or maimed, and that 160,000 people were detained in appalling conditions.