Elderly Kenyans Threaten to Sue British Government Over Abuse

The group says they were subjected to abuses such as torture, illegal detentions and rape.

Posted: 02/08/2012 02:23 PM EST
Elderly Kenyans, global news, Africa, British Government, abuse, crimes

Decades after independence from British colonial rule, a group of elderly Kenyans involved in a 1950's rebellion are stepping forward and preparing to sue the U.K. government over abuses, including torture, illegal detentions and rape.


Although the claims stem from a time long past, lawyer for the group, Donald Rabala, says that the abuse the victims endured is something that will never be forgotten.


"The victims know some of the names of those who raped them, tortured them. They have scars and some have documents showing when they were incarcerated and where," Rabala said, according to the Associated Press.


Rabala claims to have statements from over 6,000 Kenyans who claim to have suffered torture, illegal detentions, rapes, displacement and other abuses at the hands of the British.


The claims stem from a tumultuous time in Kenyan history, when the nation was beginning to free itself from the grip of British control. After a 1952 uprising led by an anti-colonial militia group, the Mau Mau, many Kenyans were held in detention camps and the country remained under a British-imposed state of emergency until 1959.


According to the Kenya Human Rights Commission, nearly 90,000 Kenyans were executed, tortured or maimed during this period, and 160,000 faced detention in appalling conditions.


President Obama's late grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, was one of thousands of Kenyans detained, the Associated Press reports.


However, the case will not be the first time the British government has had to answer abuse claims made by Kenyans. A group of four elderly Kenyan men previously came forward with similar claims against the government and, last year, the British High Court ruled that the group could legally seek damages for the abuse.


Although the British government has since released government files detailing the scope of the abuse, Britain's Africa Minister Henry Bellingham told the Associated Press that the government would continue to fight the claims, "given the length of time elapsed and the complex legal and constitutional questions the case raises."


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 (Photo: AP Photo/Cris Obudo)

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