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UK government to compensate Mau Mau veterans

UK government to compensate Mau Mau veterans

The UK government will compensate elderly Kenyans that were tortured by the British during the Mau Mau uprisings in the 1950s.

Foreign secretary William Hague announced the deal, but did not apologise for the actions of previous governments in the east African country - instead expressing regret at what happened.

Mr Hague said he recognised that Kenyans were routinely subjected to torture and general ill-treatment from the colonial government, describing what happened as an "abhorrent" violation of human dignity.

The Mau Mau revolution came to fruition in Kenya as part of an independence movement more than 60 years ago and the country's Human Rights Commission says 160,000 people were detained by the British-backed regime, with 90,000 of these executed, tortured or maimed during their incarceration.

Other forms of punishment used by administrators in the nation included rape, beatings and castration.

The UK government said it would be "willing to learn from [its] history" so similar events never happened again.

"We understand the pain and grievance felt by those, on all sides, who were involved in the divisive and bloody events of the emergency period in Kenya," it added.

One of the solicitors who campaigned for compensation to be given to the Mau Mau congratulated Mr Hague on his decision and said the significance of the settlement would not be lost on those affected by the torture.

"Although they occurred many years ago, the physical and mental scars remain," the solicitor remarked.

However, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has said it refuses to take full liability for the actions of the administration in the 1950s and would not take responsibility for atrocities committed by other colonial regimes in countries such as South Africa or Australia - arguing these nations must arrange their own settlements.

Around 5,228 claimants are expected to come forward in coming months.

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Posted by Chris Stevenson