Kenyan colonial litigation commences 7 April 2011

The case of Mutua and Others v The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will commence at 10:30am on Thursday 7 April at the Royal Courts of Justice. The hearing is before Mr Justice McCombe and is due to last 8-10 days. The case involves allegations of torture and other ill-treatment committed by the British and Colonial Administration in Kenya during the period 1952 – 1961. The atrocities were committed against a group known as the “Mau Mau”, mainly comprised of Kenyans from the Kikuyu tribe.

REDRESS is the only organisation to intervene in the case and instructed leading silk Elizabeth-Anne Gumbel
Q.C. to help to draft its submissions, which focus on the ability of the courts to hear this important case, despite the decades since the acts are said to occur.

What is this case about? The case concerns allegations that members of the Mau Mau were subjected to
torture, including rape and castration. The brutal treatment is said to have been committed by the British and
Colonial Administration in Kenya during the period 1952 – 1961. The case is brought by lawyers at Leigh Day.
Why is this case important? The case is important because decades on, the crimes have never been
acknowledged formally and victims have never had an apology or compensation, nor has anyone been
prosecuted for the crimes. If the UK Government stands firm to its commitment to end torture, it should start with addressing torture which happened on its watch.

Two main preliminary issues are canvassed:

The time gap: These crimes are decades old. The Government will argue that they are too old to come before a Court. The Claimants argue the contrary, and so has REDRESS. In our submissions we say that under
international law, limitation periods should not apply to prevent torture claims from being heard. Also, under UK law, the Courts have every possibility to hear the case.

Is the UK still responsible after the end of colonial rule? After the independence of Kenya, the UK has
argued that all claims that relate to the earlier colonial administration pass to the Kenyan government.
REDRESS’ view is that this is a morally untenable position which should be rejected by the Courts.

Why is REDRESS involved? REDRESS is involved because addressing the scourge of torture is what we are
about. Justice is not only a right of victims of torture recognised in international law and in the laws of countries
across the globe, it is also the duty and responsibility of governments to ensure that justice can be done.

The victims have faced numerous hurdles in seeking justice. They have lived for decades and decades with the weight of torture. It is important that what they suffered is finally acknowledged and compensated.
For more information please contact Jehangir Jilani([email protected]).