Another 8,000 Mau Mau war veterans angle for UK payouts

Just days after the British government agreed to pay Sh2.6 billion (£19.9mn) to 5,228 Mau Mau victims for torture during the colonial period, details are emerging of pending claims by at least 8,000 others.

The Standard on Sunday has established a second case filed by Tandem AVH along its Kenyan affiliate Miller and Company Advocates, seeking compensation for at least 8,061 victims of British atrocities during the 1952 state of emergency in Kenya.

Top on the list of claimants in the case is Eloise Mukami Kimathi, the widow of Field Marshall Dedan Kimathi.

The law firms were instructed by Mukami, General Waweru James Karanja Nyoro and others, seeking claims for personal injury and consequential losses arising out of allegations of torture, mistreatment, forced labour and wrongful detention by the British government.

The Sh2.6 billion payout was announced by British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who told Parliament’s lower House of Commons on Thursday: “The British Government recognises that Kenyans were subject to torture and other forms of ill-treatment at the hands of the colonial administration.”

Soon after the decision by the UK government to pay out compensation to the 5,228 Mau Mau victims, Bryan Cox QC, speaking on behalf of Tandem BVH said: “The expression of regret by William Hague is welcome. However, with many more thousands of claims currently unresolved, the matter is far from over. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has agreed a compensation package with just one law firm representing 5,228 victims, there are many more victims still waiting an agreement. We are currently working with over 8,000 Kenyan claimants who have received no such offer.”

The compensation to the 5,228 victims was made after a legal battle lodged by British law firm Leigh Day. The Kenya Human Rights Commission and lawyer Paul Muite were part of the case.

The test case was lodged by Paulo Muoka Nzili, Wambugu Wa Nyingi and Jane Muthoni Mara, who last year told the High Court in London how they were subjected to torture and sexual mutilation.

Lawyers said Nzili was castrated, Nyingi severely beaten and Mara subjected to appalling sexual abuse in detention camps during the Mau Mau rebellion.
After Thursday’s announcement, Cox went on to say it was worrying that the sums being offered appeared modest.

“We are concerned about this. Having been in Kenya for the past 14 months taking very detailed witness statements, it is absolutely crucial that the FCO understands, in detail, the very great suffering of all the victims to ensure they are properly compensated.”

Observers say the fact that Tandem AVH-Miller and Company Advocates still have a case pending gives a chance to other genuine claimants to join the suit.

Cox said: “It is on public record there are considerably more genuine victims of torture and abuse. Tandem AVH are confident that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will fairly consider genuine claims irrespective of which firm acts on their behalf, as the interests of justice cannot be served any other way. We await and expect contact from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office forthwith.”

Tandem AVH-Miller and Company Advocates filed proceedings in the High Court in London against the British Government (Eloise Mukami-Kimathi and James Karanja Nyoro and others; through claim no. HQ13XO2162 Queen’s Bench Division) in March 2013.

The claimants argue that they suffered assault, battery, causing personal injury, forced removal from their homes, forced detention, forced labour, torture and interference with the right to private and family life.

This article is published by Sunday Standard on June 9, 2013