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UK to compensate 5,228 Kenyans for Mau Mau uprising abuse

A compensation deal worth €23.5 million was unveiled. That’s around €4,460 per person – five times the annual salary of a Kenyan civil servant.

Mau-Mau veteran Mathenge Iregi, 81, waves a a ceremonial whisk to celebrate William Hague's announcement.
Mau-Mau veteran Mathenge Iregi, 81, waves a a ceremonial whisk to celebrate William Hague's announcement.
Image: (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT are to compensate 5,228 Kenyans for the abuse they suffered during the Emergency Period and the Mau Mau insurgency from October 1952 to December 1963.

The Foreign Secretary William Hague made the announcement earlier and said “the British government sincerely regrets that these abuses took place”, but didn’t make a full apology.

A compensation deal worth €23.5 million was also unveiled for the victims – if divided up equally, the payment per person reaches about €4,460 and represents about five times the annual salary of a low-level Kenyan civil servant.

Foreign Secretary William Hague made the announcement in the House of Commons, London earlier. (Image: PA/PA Wire)

His statement follows a four-year legal battle in which Britain had sought to deny liability for the abuse, claiming legal responsibility had passed to the Kenyan government after independence in 1963.

The abuses took place between 1952 and 1963 when several thousand, now-elderly, Kenyans say they were beaten and sexually assaulted by officers acting for the British administration trying to suppress the ‘Mau Mau’ rebellion, in which groups of Kenyans attacked British officials and white farmers.

The British government will also support the construction of a memorial in Nairobi to the victims of torture and ill-treatment during the colonial era.

A Kenyan man reads a copy of Kenya’s The Standard newspaper as Mau-Mau veterans awaited a press conference about the announcement earlier. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Although Hague told the House of Commons that the British government regretted its actions that “marred Kenya’s progress towards independence”, he acknowledged that the Mau Mau also played a part in the causalities:

During the Emergency Period widespread violence was committed by both sides, and most of the victims were Kenyan. Many thousands of Mau Mau members were killed, while the Mau Mau themselves were responsible for the deaths of over 2,000 people including 200 casualties among the British regiments and police.

About 160 elderly Mau Mau gathered to hear the announcement made simultaneously by the British high commissioner in Nairobi.

You can read William Hague’s full statement to parliament here.

Read: Kenya Supreme Court upholds election of Kenyatta as president>

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Amy Croffey

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