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 suffered a blow after the High Court dismissed their petition.
The group registered as Kimerera Elders Advisory Council also wanted to get 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.
Justice Kanyi Kimondo, while sitting at the High Court in Murang’a, heard that the sufferings were caused during the period 1952 to 1963 during the Mau-Mau or freedom fighters’ struggle for independence in Kenya.
Through 14 war veterans, the petitioners 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 populace (in Central and Eastern parts of Kenya) were forced to live in villages in areas of Mau Mau operations.
They wanted the Kenyan government to compensate them just like the British government paid about 5,228 Mau Mau war veterans Sh2.7 billion in an out-of-court settlement reached in 2013.
“The first President of independent Kenya, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, promised 50 acres to each survivor of the freedom struggle at Embu between Kiiye River to 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 the Mau-Mau.
“Recognition of the Petitioner’s members by the Kenya government for the role they played in the freedom struggle in the period 1952 to 1962,” they demanded.
The court heard that the group was formed in 1976 by the first President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta to represent war veterans.
Mzee Kenyatta, they argued, also awarded them land in Embu but it has never been transferred to them. On top of that, they said the late President also promised them monetary compensation through the Attorney-General, which compensation 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.
However, the government never filed any papers in response to the petition.
While dismissing the case, Justice Kimondo said the petition was poorly drafted and it was not properly identifiable whether 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,” he noted.
He stated that though the claimants raised serious issues regarding the abuse of Kenyan’s human rights, the petition and documents tabled in court show that the case was not pleaded properly, “betraying a lack of proper preparation on the part of the counsels 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.
He advised: “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.”