Lawyers accuse UK of ploy to delay Mau Mau case

Members of the Mau Mau War Veterans Association. Photo/FILE

What you need to know:

  • Lead counsel considers mounting political pressure to push Britain to concede

Lawyers representing Mau Mau war victims are now considering enlisting the support of the Commonwealth Foreign Office in London to hasten their case amid fears that it could drag until all the witnesses die.

Lawyer Simon Myerson told journalists in Nairobi that they would consider mounting a political campaign to put pressure on the British Government to acknowledge the wrongs it committed during the State of Emergency in Kenya where many people were tortured.

“If the Commonwealth Foreign Office in Britain is prepared to deal with this case sensibly then that is how it should carry out even if it means mounting a political campaign,” Mr Myerson said.

“And the political campaign is best mounted via the Commonwealth because the Commonwealth means a great deal to both the British Government and the Queen herself.”

Mr Myerson, who is in the country to meet the Mau Mau victims as they seek to tighten their case, also asked the Kenya Government to lobby other Commonwealth nations to support their cause.

He noted that by acknowledging that wrongs were committed, the British Government would bring psychological relief to the victims who continue to be haunted by the traumatic experiences they went through.

The British Government last month appealed a High Court decision that allowed the Mau Mau torture victims to pursue compensation for abuses committed during the 1952-1960 insurgency.

The UK Foreign Office lawyers noted in their appeal that if the verdict obtained by Mr Paulo Muoka Nzili, 85, Mr Wambugu wa Nyingi, 84, and Ms Jane Muthoni Mara, 73, was upheld, another 2,000 claimants could arise in the coming days since interviews were going on in Kenya.

But the lawyers termed the appeal disgraceful and a ploy by the UK government to delay the cases until the remaining survivors die.

Mr Myerson also criticised the UK Government for trying to stop them from gathering more evidence from potential victims in the hotbeds of the Mau Mau uprising around the country.

“It is disgraceful because these people are aging and the longer we wait, the more the probability that they may not be there to make witness statements for us. I don’t think they are behaving in a way that when they look backward in 10 years’ time they will be proud of,” he said.

Mr Myerson was accompanied by colleagues Freddie Gibson and Louise Cowen.


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