Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kenya Human Rights Commission to Challenge Britain For Dismissing Torture Claims From War of Independence

NAIROBI 26 January 2010 Sapa-AFP


The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) said Tuesday it would challenge a move by the UK government striking out claims of
torture by the British colonial administration in Kenya.

KHRC chief Muthoni Wanyeki said the "law of state succession"
invoked by Britain to dismiss the claims by four elderly Mau Mau
independence fighters alleging torture and rape was "legally
challengeable and morally repugnant."

"We are afraid that by seeking to invoke a legal technicality in
its defence as opposed to relying on the substance of the Mau Mau
suit, the British government is, either knowingly or unknowingly,
waging a war of attrition on the Mau Mau torture survivors,"
Wanyeki said.

"Most of these survivors are now quite advanced in age and
don't have a long time to live. In fact, one of the lead
claimants, Susan Ciongombe Ngondi, passed away. We contend that the Mau Mau torture survivors have waited for too long for justice and the time to get justice is now," she added.

The rights activist said MPs, lawyers and human rights groups
would soon be sending a letter of protest to British Foreign
Secretary David Miliband while another group was also planning to
convene a special meeting to review the legal options at London's
School of Oriental and African Studies next month.

The British government had argued that it is not liable for the
acts of the colonial administration and that the Kenyan government
was now responsible for whatever happened before independence was obtained in 1963.

"That is absolutely not acceptable, torture has never been a
core duty of the state. So it is crazy to imply that it is the core
duty passed on to our government," Wanyeki said.

In June 2009, the veterans of the Mau Mau revolt, which led to a
series of bloody clashes between Kenyan nationalists and British
forces throughout the 1950s, left Kenya for the first time in their
lives to take legal action in person in London.

The three men and two women claimed they were subjected to
sexual abuse, forced labour, castration and various forms of

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