First – as readers of this blog will know – Britain was faced with claims from Kenyans, who had been tortured during the Mau Mau uprising of the 1950’s and 60’s.
That claim was finally settled with 5,228 victims receiving some £20m in compensation.
Then it was reported that Caribbean nations were beginning to pursue claims relating to the slave trade.
The Caribbean Community has engaged the lawyers who dealt with the Mau Mau case to investigate whether Britain, France and the Netherlands can be pursued for compensation.
Leigh Day, who have also taken a string of other contentious cases involving the abuses of multinational companies through the British courts, are looking into this new challenge.
Lawyer Martyn Day said his first step would probably be to seek a negotiated settlement with the governments of France, Britain and Netherlands along the lines of the British agreement in June to issue a statement of regret and award compensation of £19.9m to the surviving Kenyans.
“I think they would undoubtedly want to try and see if this can be resolved amicably,” Day said of the Caribbean countries. “But I think the reason they have hired us is that they want to show that they mean business.”
Cyprus joins the queue
Now it appears that Cypriots involved in Eoka’s fight against the British between 1955 and 1959 are also calling for compensation.
This article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of 11 August 2013
“A LAWYER, acting on behalf of eight EOKA veterans – six men and two women – will be in Cyprus next month to push forward on claims against the British government for human rights abuses during 1955-1959 struggle against colonial rule.
KJ Conroy & Co Solicitors have been representing the EOKA veterans since June 2011. Kevin Conroy of the Birmingham-based law firm has already taken the first step in the British legal process towards pursuing compensation for his clients.
Eight letters with claims on behalf of two women and six men have been sent to the British Foreign Office. The letters set out the details of the allegations and provide the accused with the opportunity to investigate them over the course of six months.
According to the lawyers, London doesn’t seem inclined to settle or mediate, which paves the way for issuing proceedings and going to litigation within the next few months, probably at some point in the beginning of the new year.
The British government initially took the same stance it the cases brought Kenyans, members of the Mau-Mau tribe that also accused the colonial power of torture. However, in the end the British government settled. While Foreign Secretary William Hague expressed his “sincere regret” for the torture and ill-treatment Kenyans suffered under the colonial administration, there was no admission of liability.
Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency, Conroy said the British government’s approach in the case of Cyprus was “ill-advised”, as the Mau-Mau case clearly set a precedent.
“The precedent is clear. I believe that my Cypriot clients have very strong legal arguments,” said the British solicitor, adding that he considered a repeat of the Mau-Mau case scenario very plausible.
The arguments of the Cypriot claimants are expected to get a boost once the research into the International Red Cross archive in Geneva is completed. A French lawyer working on the case has come up with detailed eye-witness accounts by the organisation’s inspectors of the time, supporting the EOKA fighters’ allegations.
Top secret foreign office files made available this year, have showed that EOKA fighters and civilians were brutally tortured between 1955 and 1959.”