Socialist Worker

40,000 Kenyans demand compensation for British atrocities in Mau Mau war

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2428

Mau Mau War Veterans’ Association chair Gitu wa Kahengeri (centre) and other members of the delegation at London’s High Court during the previous case in 2009

Mau Mau War Veterans’ Association chair Gitu wa Kahengeri (centre) and other members of the delegation at London’s High Court during the previous case in 2009 (Pic: Guy Smallman)


A second group of aging Kenyans is taking the British government to court over atrocities committed in the 1950s in what was then a British colony.

Last year the government paid out £19 million to a group of 5,228 Kenyans who suffered torture from British forces during the Mau Mau independence war. When the case opened in 2009, five veterans had travelled to Britain to take part in a test case.

After years of trying to stop the case being heard the government was forced to admit that British forces had been involved in torture during the war.

William Hague said in parliament that this settlement, about £2,500 for each claimant, was a “full and final settlement”.

But now another 41,005 have come forward, after investigations by seven British law firms. The original case restricted itself to people who suffered torture. The new one includes a range of offences, among them false imprisonment and forced labour.

Lawyers hope the first 25 test cases will be heard in January 2016. Past experience suggests the British government will fight tooth and nail to avoid accepting responsibility.


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