Rape, murder and arson .. Kenyans sue Britain for violations committed during the colonial era
Kenyans who were expelled from their lands by British settlers during the colonial era have filed a lawsuit against the United Kingdom with the European Court of Human Rights, their supporters announced Tuesday.
Lawyers for the residents of the Rift Valley who were expelled from their land said; By ignoring the victims and their complaints, the UK government has violated the European Convention on Human Rights and is a signatory to it.
“The UK government evaded and unfortunately avoided all possible avenues to remedy the situation,” said Jules Kimotai Busek, tribal agent for the Talai Kisbegis.
“We have no choice but to go to court” to “correct history,” he added.
In the early twentieth century, the Kipsegis and Talay tribesmen were expelled from their lands near Kericho, which is now a major area for tea production on plantations of major international companies, including Unilever, Finlay and Lipton.
Prosecutors turned to the United Nations, where in 2021 a special commission of inquiry expressed “grave concern” that the UK had not made a public apology or acknowledgment of part responsibility for these colonial-era abuses.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers pointed out that the British army and the colonial authorities resorted to rape, murder and arson to seize large swathes of arable land in Kericho from its original owners.
The victims, who numbered more than 100,000, signed the complaint submitted to the United Nations in 2019, which demands an apology and compensation for the seizure of their land and its grant to white settlers who deliberately fertilized the soil to grow tea.
But the British government refused to meet with the victims or their representatives, according to the lawyers.
“It’s a historic day,” said outgoing Kericho County Governor Paul Chepkwone, who for years has advocated compensation for the victims.
“The UK government has turned its back on us (…) We hope that those who have suffered for so long will regain their dignity.”
In June, the European Court issued a temporary ruling preventing the UK from deporting asylum-seekers to Uganda.
But London has since passed legislation that would enable it to override the decisions of the European Court, but it has denied any intention to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights.