UK court allows Kenyan claim over 1950s torture to proceed

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 05, 2012 5:37 AM
UK court allows Kenyan claim over 1950s torture to proceed

LONDON (Reuters) - A British court ruled on Friday that three elderly Kenyans who were tortured under British rule in the 1950s could pursue their claim for damages from London, a ruling that could encourage other claims from victims of colonial-era brutality.

Now in their 70s and 80s, the claimants suffered castration, rape and beatings while in detention during a ruthless crackdown by British forces and their Kenyan allies on rebels from the Mau Mau movement fighting for land and freedom.

The trio want Britain to apologize and to fund welfare benefits for Kenyan victims of torture by colonial forces. They were not in court on Friday to hear the ruling but were expected to speak at a news conference in Nairobi later.

The British government had been trying for three years to block their legal action, first by arguing that responsibility for what happened during the Mau Mau crisis had passed to the Kenyan government upon independence in 1963.

After a court rejected that position in 2011, the government argued that the case should not proceed because it was brought after the legal time limit.

South Africa's revered Archbishop Desmond Tutu has thrown his moral authority behind the case, accusing Britain of hypocrisy for criticizing the human rights record of other countries while refusing to face up to its own.

(Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Steve Addison)