Martyn Day with Mau Mau veterans outside High Court London
Martyn Day with Mau Mau veterans outside High Court London

2 September 2015

Memorial to Kenyan victims of British torture to be unveiled in Nairobi

A memorial will be unveiled on Saturday 12th September 2015, in Uhuru Park, Nairobi to remember the many thousands of Kenyans who suffered torture and abuse at the hands of British forces during the colonial era (1952 – 1960).

In 2013, following a legal case brought against the Government by law firm Leigh Day on behalf of 5,200 Kenyans, the then Foreign Secretary, William Hague, expressed “sincere regret” that thousands of Kenyans had been subjected to torture and other forms of ill-treatment at the hands of the British colonial administration during the Kenya Emergency.

Speaking in the House of Commons in June 2013, Mr Hague announced that, following the legal action, the British Government would pay compensation to the victims of abuse and finance the construction of a memorial to all the victims of colonial era torture in Kenya.

The Memorial will be unveiled at Freedom Corner, Uhuru Park, in Central Nairobi on Saturday 12th September 2015 at 10:30am (EAT) 07:30am (GMT).

Attending the ceremony will be representatives of the Mau Mau War Veterans Association as well as representatives from Leigh Day and the British High Commissioner and UK Government officials.

Daniel Leader, a partner at law firm Leigh Day, who will be attending the ceremony on behalf of Leigh Day, said:

“The unveiling of this memorial is an historic event. This memorial represents the first apology by the UK Government for abuses by the British during colonial rule.

“Crimes such as castration, rape and repeated violence of the worst kind were inflicted upon thousands of Kenyans by British colonial officials in detention camps. Many of those who suffered had little or nothing to do with the Mau Mau insurgency.

“This memorial, along with the apology given in 2013, has gone a long way to lifting the cloud that has hung over those Kenyans tortured by the British for so long.”

Speaking at the time of the apology in 2013, Martyn Day, the senior partner at Leigh Day said:

“The British Government rightly states that it is the sign of a strength of a democracy that it is willing to learn from its past.   This case has been a long, hard struggle for justice; taking four years and two court defeats for the Government before they finally agreed to treat these victims of torture with the dignity they deserve.

“Our clients would like to pay tribute to the British legal system, which impartially and rigorously scrutinised the complex factual and legal issues raised by this historic case.   Equally, the role of the expert historians Professor Caroline Elkins, Professor David Anderson and Dr Huw Bennett in this case has been of critical importance.

“Our clients would also like to pay tribute to the Kenyan Human Rights Commission and the Mau Mau War Veterans Association who have provided them with every assistance during this arduous legal battle.

“We would also like to thank the many leading international human rights activists and politicians and who have repeatedly championed this issue over the years including Desmond Tutu, Lakhdar Brahimi, Glenys Kinnock, Sir Nigel Rodley and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez.”

“We hope that this case will act as a reminder that there are human rights abuses so grave that they deserve recognition and redress even if the events in the question happened many years ago.  That was true of those who sought redress decades after the Second World War, including the British Prisoners of War of the Japanese (whom we also represented), and now it is equally true for these African victims of British colonial abuse.”