Britain to compensate for colonial-era torture

The country expressed regret on Thursday about the abuse of Kenyans by colonial forces during the Mau Mau insurgency in the 1950s and announced a compensation package for over 5 200 elderly survivors worth a total of £20-million.

The deal, settled out of court after three elderly Kenyan victims of torture won the right in October to sue the British government, could encourage people in other former colonies to press claims over grievances dating back to the days of Empire.

"The British government recognises that Kenyans were subject to torture and other forms of ill treatment at the hands of the colonial administration," Foreign Secretary William Hague told Parliament in London.

"The British government sincerely regrets that these abuses took place and that they marred Kenya's progress towards independence."

Hague said the government had reached a deal with the lawyers acting for the Kenyan victims, including payment of a settlement sum in respect of 5 228 claimants. London would also pay for a new memorial in Nairobi to the victims of torture and ill treatment during the colonial era.

The so-called Kenyan "Emergency" of 1952-1961 was one of the most traumatic episodes of British colonial rule in Africa.

Mau Mau rebels fighting for land and an end to British domination attacked British targets, causing panic among white settlers and alarming the government in London.

Tens of thousands of rebels were killed by colonial forces and their Kenyan allies, while an estimated 150 000 people, many of them unconnected to Mau Mau, were detained in brutal camps. – Reuters

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