Socialist Worker

Mau Mau war veterans win right to sue Britain over torture

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2323

Dan Thea (right), David Anderson and supporters celebrate outside court on Friday morning (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Dan Thea (right), David Anderson and supporters celebrate outside court on Friday morning (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Three veterans of the Mau Mau war in Kenya have won the right to take the British government to court for torture in the 1950s.

Their supporters cheered and celebrated outside the Royal Courts of Justice in central London on Friday morning.

Five Kenyans brought the case three years ago on behalf of people who were put in concentration camps and brutally tortured by British authorities during Kenya’s war for independence.

The government argued that the events had occurred too long ago for there to be a fair trial. But this was rejected by the judge Mr Justice McCombe.

He said a document archive of 8,800 files from colonial era files will “fill in the gaps” and make a fair trial possible.

The government had claimed the files were “lost” but was forced to admit their existence last year. It had to concede in July that the claimants had indeed been tortured by British officials.

Dan Thea from the Mau Mau Justice Network told Socialist Worker, “It’s wonderful news. At last we can get past the technical arguments the British government has used.


“They lost last year and they lost here. At last there will be a proper hearing. Let’s hope we finally see an end to 60 years of injustice.”

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn was in court for the judgement. He told Socialist Worker, “I’m delighted at the decision. It’s the result of a brilliant campaign. A trial will uncover an awful lot of murky secrets of the British colonial rule.”

Historian David Anderson was an expert witness for the veterans. “I’m very happy for the Kenyans,” he said. “This will give them back some long overdue dignity.

“Most of all I think of the victims, who are now in their 80s. The case has taken so long because of delays and procrastination on the government’s side.”

The case will now be heard next year.

» Britain admits colonial brutality in Kenya

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Fri 5 Oct 2012, 15:13 BST
Issue No. 2323
Share this article


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.