Dead end for Mau Mau veterans in court quest for recompense



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A group of Mau Mau freedom fighters who hoped to get monetary compensation from the Kenyan government due to torture by the colonial administration in the 1950s have received a blow after the High Court dismissed their petition.

The group registered as Kimerera Elders’ Advisory Council (Mau Mau founders) also expected to be paid for fixed assets and institutions acquired compulsorily from them by the colonial government without consent or compensation.

They complained that among the atrocities meted on them by the British administration was loss of life due to torture, degradation, relocation from homes, detention and human suffering.

They told Justice Kanyi Kimondo of the High Court in Murang’a that underwent the sufferings between 1952 and 1963 during the Mau Mau or freedom fighters’ struggle for Kenya’s independence.

The war veterans also said they lost their lands through displacement when people were forced into detention camps by the colonial government.

They said the rest of the population in central and eastern parts of Kenya were forced to live in villages in areas of Mau Mau operations.

“The first President of independent Kenya, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, promised 50 acres to each survivor of the freedom struggle in Embu between Kiiye River and Mbogori,” they told the court.

The group also sought compensation for confiscation by the colonial government of Mau Mau properties held in trust by the Independent churches.

Led by Mr Maina Kamau, Mr Mwiandi Kiambati and Mr Kimwere Kamau, the group wanted the court to order for release of money amounting to Sh9 million they alleged was released by the British government to compensate them.

The court heard that the group was formed in 1976 by Mzee Jomo Kenyatta to represent war veterans.

Mzee Kenyatta, they argued, also gave them land in Embu but it has never been transferred to them.

On top of that, they said the first president also promised them monetary compensation through the Attorney-General, which is yet to materialise.

“We have been discriminated against by successive governments of Kenya which continued to pay pension to former home guards who were used by the colonial government to suppress the fundamental rights and freedoms of indigenous Kenyans prior to Independence. The current independent Kenya government is liable to the petitioner and its members under the principle of successive liability,” they told the court.

But despite service to the Attorney-General, even by advertisement on Daily Nation, the government neither entered appearance nor filed any papers in response to the petition. The petition therefore proceeded ex parte by direction of the court.

While dismissing the case, Justice Kimondo said the petition was poorly drafted and it could not be verified whether or not the group is registered.

“It is clear that the petitioner has based its claims upon various articles of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010. Needless to say, that Constitution was not in place during the period of the alleged violations of the petitioner’s rights and freedoms between 1952 and 1962,” the judge noted.

He stated that although the claimants raised serious issues regarding the abuse of human rights, the petition and documents tabled in court showed that the case was not pleaded properly, “betraying a lack of proper preparation on the part of the counsel appearing for the petitioner”.

“Most of the documents appear to be official letters that came into the possession of the petitioner. Others are letters written by the petitioners and some answers thereto. All these documents do not advance, in any way, the claims set out in the petition,” stated Justice Kimondo.

“I can only hope that one day a proper case is drafted, filed and prosecuted with all the seriousness it deserves, after properly identifying the claimants, their roles in the struggle for our independence, the particulars of their sufferings and breach of their human rights, the particulars of the properties confiscated from them by the colonial government, et cetera,” said the judge.


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