|"L-R: Ndiku Mutua, Jane Muthoni Mara and Wambugu Wa Nyingi claimed they were tortured."|
By Dominic Casciani
BBC Online, July 21, 2011
"Four elderly Kenyans have been told they can sue the Foreign Office for their alleged torture by British colonial authorities 50 years ago. The High Court said the group could seek damages over their treatment during the 1950s and 60s. Mr. Justice McCombe said the claimants had an 'arguable case' and it would be 'dishonourable' to block the action. Ministers say the UK government is not responsible for the actions of the colonial administration. The decision means that the government will have to defend accusations of torture, murder, sexual assault and other alleged abuses at a full damages trial in 2012. The four Kenyans, Ndiku Mutwiwa Mutua, Paulo Muoka Nzili, Wambugu Wa Nyingi and Jane Muthoni Mara, all in their 70s and 80s, say ministers in London approved systematic abuse in special camps. A fifth claimant has died since the action began. The High Court heard that Mr. Mutua and Mr. Nzili had been castrated, Mr. Nyingi was beaten unconscious in an incident in which 11 men were clubbed to death, and Mrs. Mara had been subjected to appalling sexual abuse. Mr. Justice McCombe said in his judgement there was 'ample evidence' to show there may have been 'systematic torture of detainees during the Emergency.'
'I emphasise that I have not found that there was systematic torture in the Kenyan camps nor that, if there was, the UK government is liable to detainees, such as the claimants, for what happened. I have simply decided that these five claimants have arguable cases in law and on the facts as presently known.' The trial is expected to include critical material from some 17,000 previously lost documents which were discovered earlier this year in the Foreign Office's archives. The papers include detailed reports of atrocities which were sent to ministers in the 1950s and 1960s. Some of the documents implicate British colonial officials in abuse at detention camps which were set up to smash the pre-independence uprising. Professor David Anderson of Oxford University, who unearthed the documents, is working with other experts to log the potential evidence. So far, the names of a further 600 apparent victims have been found in the papers, all of whom could theoretically sue if they are alive. [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to Jo Jones for bringing this source to my attention.]