Kenyans' lawyer says UK not interested in settlement

AP News
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Posted: Jan 21, 2015 11:04 AM
Kenyans' lawyer says UK not interested in settlement

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — U.K.'s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has shown little interest in starting negotiations for a settlement with 20,000 elderly Kenyans suing the British government for alleged torture in the 1950s, a lawyer representing the Kenyans said Wednesday.

U.K. lawyer Freddie Cosgrove-Gibson said he was disappointed that justice was being delayed. Gibson, with law firm Tandem Law, said a suit was filed in 2013 and the hearing is scheduled to start May 5, 2016.

In London, the Foreign Office said it would not comment on the case because of ongoing legal proceedings.

"Foreign Commonwealth Office is somehow delaying resolving justice for our clients and it is a matter that we continually raise," Gibson said, adding that it's important justice be served while the Kenyans are still alive. "We would hope over the coming months and before trial that they will take this on board and decide not to procrastinate and prolong this any longer than it is absolutely necessary."

He said 40 victims have been chosen to represent the Kenyans at trial.

The Kenyans say they were beaten and sexually assaulted by officers acting for the British administration who were trying to suppress the "Mau Mau" rebellion. During the rebellion in the 1950s, groups of Kenyans attacked British officials and white farmers who had settled in some of Kenya's most fertile lands during the British colonial rule of the country.

In 1952, then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill declared a state of emergency in the country and sent British soldiers to help colonial administrators capture the fighters and send them to detention camps. African soldiers under the King's African Rifles regiment also took part in the assault on the Mau Mau and their supporters.

This is the second group of elderly Kenyan claiming restitution from the British government over the state of emergency period. In 2013 the British government paid out $21.5 million to a group of 5,200 Kenyans found to have been tortured during that period.

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Associated Press reporter Gregory Katz in London contributed to this report.