Britain is negotiating out-of-the-court settlements to compensate thousands of Kenyans severely mistreated under British colonial rule during the 1950s Mau Mau uprising.
According to a letter sent to lawyers representing some of the claimants, the Foreign Office has changed its mind on appealing last October’s High Court ruling that gave victims the green light to sue the government, The Guardian reported.
“The parties are currently exploring the possibility of settling the claims brought by our clients,” Dan Leader, a partner with the Leigh Day law firm told the paper.
“Clearly, given the ongoing negotiations, we can’t comment further.” He added.
The Foreign Office has refused to comment on the issue, but admitted the victims suffered “pain and grievance” during the bloody events of the Emergency period in Kenya.
Three victims won the case to sue the government at the High Court last year.
The trio’s lawyers said one of them was castrated, antoher severely tortured and the third subjected to appalling sexual abuse in detention camps during the Mau Mau rebellion.
There was also a fourth claimant Susan Ngondi who has died since legal proceedings began.
The British government has admitted to British forces’ torturing of detainees at the time following disclosure of a vast archive of colonial-era documents which the Foreign Office had kept secret for decades.
- Britain to pay out to Mau Mau victims (morningstaronline.co.uk)
British police forces are making as many as 250,000 requests to snoop on people’s email and phone call details every year, a new report reveals.
According to a survey, which was carried out by civil liberties and privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, 25 police forces across Britain made 506,720 requests for people’s “communications data” over the past three years, The Telegraph reported.
The survey released under the freedom of information laws found that the number of requests for Britons’ phone or email records has risen from 158,677 in 2009-10 to 178,985 in 2011-12. However, the figure could be increased to up to 250,000 including estimates for the forces that failed to reply to the research.
This comes as the UK government is seeking more snooping powers through the controversial Communications Data Bill, which is due to be published in the summer.
The draft bill is dubbed as the Snooper’s Charter, because it is considered as a significant threat to British citizens’ privacy.
The measures mark a serious increase in the powers the British government has to order any communications provider to collect, store and provide access to information about emails, online conversations and texts.
Former British shadow home secretary David Davis said, “It is frankly not good enough that the government is considering introducing a snoopers’ charter without even being able to tell us what they have used communications data for in the past.”
British anti-war activists have sealed off a weapons manufacturing company in Brighton to mark 10 years after the UK government joined the U.S.-led invasion on Iraq on March 2003.
The protesters, who had gathered in front of the EDO MBM weapons manufacturing plant from dawn, fastened themselves to the front gates with superglue and bicycle locks.
Two arrests were made by police forces during the six-hour standoff, but the whole gathering continued without violence, according to British media reports.
The anti-war activists from Smash EDO lashed out at engineers of the factory for churning out millions of pounds worth of bomb racks, arming units and parts for aircraft weapon systems every year.
EDO MBM is one of several companies supplying Paveway missiles used in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a component for U.S. planes carrying cluster bombs banned under an international treaty signed by Britain in 2008.
Smash EDO’s Chloe Marsh described the day’s protest as a memorial to Iraq’s dead as well as a direct action.
“The case for war was put to people in the UK on the basis of an immediate threat from Iraqi ‘weapons of mass destruction.’
“This turned out, as expected, to be a lie. As a result, according to the Lancet, over a million Iraqi citizens have died.”
Fellow protester Andrew Beckett said: “We are here to commemorate those who died in the aerial bombardment of Iraq and to resist EDO MBM’s continued supply of components to the US/UK military.”
- Iraq: Decade of war ‘based on lies’ (morningstaronline.co.uk)
The so-called Justice and Security Bill will enable the UK government, its security services and spying apparatus to cover up their crimes, such as rendition and torture of detainees.
The Bill, which was pushed through the House of Commons by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government last week, will also raise the specter of an untrammeled dictatorship, so to speak.
Under the bill, government ministers will be able to establish secret trials for civil law cases in which the public and media are excluded from proceedings where the government is a defendant and national security is said to be at stake.
The planned legislation will enable the UK government to suppress information about the handover of Afghan detainees by Britain to Afghan jails where they risk being tortured, or about UK involvement in U.S. drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan or elsewhere around the world.
The bill also allows the “government to appoint special advocates to represent the claimants, instead of lawyers of their own choosing, making it impossible for the claimants to know why their cases failed or succeeded”.
It is a profoundly undemocratic bill that marks a major departure in long-held principles of English law-that cases are held and decided in public and that the evidence presented by the other party is disclosed.
As Andrew Tyrie MP and Anthony Peto QC point out in their report, Neither Just nor Secure, secrecy could be imposed to prevent inquiries by investigative journalists, halt or limit protests, prevent people from recovering property seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act and stop injured servicemen from suing the Ministry of Defence for faulty equipment.
Taken together, the bill will make it impossible for claimants to know anything about their case, making it easier for ministers and the security services to cover up their crimes, such as rendition and torture.
As various cases show, the entire British state machinery is guilty of criminality: torture, abduction, extraordinary rendition and the denial of due process.
British activists being detained in UK airports under anti-terrorism legislation on return home from Palestine
Two British peace activists have been detained in recent weeks after arriving home from the West Bank, occupied Palestine. They have been detained and taken in for questioning, over suspected links with the International Solidarity Movement.
“We are concerned about the British police using anti-terrorist legislation to target non-violent pro-Palestinian activists. We are a transparent group, trying to uphold the principles of international law; even inside Israel the International Solidarity Movement is not considered illegal. We would encourage the British Police to ask any questions they wish to do so, directly, and not by detaining affiliated activists at the airport”
The Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which the two activists have been held on, allows the police, under certain specified circumstances, to arrest individuals without a warrant who are reasonably suspected of being terrorists. These laws are draconian measures which give the British police powers to detain suspects for up to 28 days without charge.
Schedule 7 is clearly being used as a tool to find out more about activists involved in a wide variety of types of political dissent and to provide profiles of activists for the police to use in trying to undermine political movements. None of the questions about movements in the UK were designed to root out terrorism or uncover the preparation for terrorism. In fact, the movements concerned have never even been accused of terrorism (with the exception of completely false accusations made against the ISM, see here).
Britain abstained at the last vote at the United Nations deciding whether Palestine should be accepted as a non-member observer state. But in the last two weeks the double standards of the British government in relation to Palestine and Israel have again been laid bare; Saeed Amireh, has been refused a visa to visit the UK. Amireh is a peaceful campaigner against Israel’s occupation and the theft of Nilin’s land. He was told he hadn’t provided “enough supporting documents”, even though he had supplied everything that was asked for, including a letter of invitation and guarantee from the UK Palestine Solidarity Campaign of his costs being paid.
The use of these powers as a way to clamp down on non violent activists from Palestine and Britain is not acceptable, what is the British government afraid of? Maybe the fact the activists, returning home from Palestine, work with Corporate Watch and have helped reveal the continued supply of weaponry from Britain to the Israeli army has made them a target. This is despite the current British arms export policy stating it won’t deliver weapons to any countries breaking UN treaties. British companies are still complicit in Israeli war crimes in Gaza, as was proved in the EDO Decommisioners case of 2011.
Read more about the misuse of these powers and much more at corporateoccupation.org
- Farming Injustice (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Stop EU funding of Israeli military companies and illegal settlements (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- I find it sinister that the british firm securicor (“G4S”) is “providing services to israeli prisons and west bank checkpoints” (niqnaq.wordpress.com)
- Spies “monitoring” Palestine solidarity groups around world, says Israeli military correspondent (theuglytruth.wordpress.com)
Never before seen files on Britain’s cruel colonial grip on Kenya have revealed a desperate attempt to cover up the massacre of unarmed prisoners during the Mau Mau uprising.
Eleven prisoners at the Hola detention camp were brutally clubbed to death and dozens more injured by prison wardens on March 3 1959 after they refused to work.
One of three elderly Kenyans, who last month won a High Court ruling to sue the British government for damages over torture, claims he was beaten unconscious during the incident.
Despite the overwhelming evidence nobody has ever been prosecuted.
Shockingly, the previously secret documents show that British colonial officials refused to identify individuals involved and attempted to blame the deaths on the prisoners “drinking too much water.”
The prison camp was one of many built during the uprising in which suspected rebels were detained by British colonial forces, often in dire conditions.
Shortly before the Hola deaths, a plan had been drawn up by colonial authorities allowing prison staff to use force to make detainees work if they refused, the Foreign Office files released by the National Archives show.
Prison officer Walter Coutts told the inquest into the Hola deaths that the detainees either “willed themselves to death or had died because they drank too much water.”
But a colonial official’s assistant, Kenyan Johannes Ezekiel, said he saw camp commandant Michael Sullivan moving between groups of prison warders, and could “see perfectly well what was going on.”
Mr Ezekiel’s comments were discounted by attorney-general Eric Griffith-Jones, who was in charge of criminal prosecutions, as he was “strongly suspected” to have links with Kenyan nationalist opposition politician Tom Mboya.
After post-mortem examinations revealed the deaths were caused by violence, the commissioner of prisons, who authorised the plan to use force, claimed that he had warned there were risks.
To make matters worse the attorney-general caused uproar in Britain after announcing that no charges could be brought against any individuals.
He said in a secret letter to the Kenyan chief secretary: “No evidence was available to establish whether any, and, if so, what, injuries had been inflicted by the beating in question or on whom.”
The Hola deaths signalled the beginning of the end of Britain’s clampdown on the Mau Mau uprising as colonial authorities began to close prison camps around Kenya in the following years.
Kenya declared independence from Britain just over four years after the Hola deaths, on December 12 1963.
Separate government files, also released for the first time today, show that colonial officials in Cyprus had considered producing adventure comic books and running an essay competition in the 1950s as part of a propaganda bid to stop youngsters rebelling against British rule.
Cyprus won independence from Britain in 1960.
Boxes containing top secret files about former British colonial rule have gone missing, with those relating to Singapore possibly destroyed. Declassified colonial Kenyan files earlier played a key role in proving the UK responsible for grave abuses.
Britain has admitted that it was aware that 170 boxes of files were transferred to Britain from former colonies. But the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Minister David Lidington said that the government did not know what had happened to the files afterwards.
“It remains the case that the FCO is still unable to confirm the existence or destruction of 170 boxes of top secret colonial administration files known to have been returned to the UK,” Lidington told AFP.
“There is some evidence that the Singapore-related top secret colonial administration files were destroyed as part of a review of FCO post files in the 1990s.”
The FCO is continuing the search for the files and any evidence relating to their possible destruction.
The revelation comes after files relating to British rule in Kenya and Cyprus were declassified, made public and played a key in a court case by three elderly Kenyans who say they were tortured during the British army’s suppression of the 1950s Mau Mau Rebellion.
At the court hearing an archive of 8,800 secret files were examined. The released documents proved attempts by UK authorities to cover-up the killings of 11 prisoners during the uprising and showed that detainees had been battered to death by warders at the Hola detention camp.
A British court granted a historic victory to the three Kenyans, allowing them to claim damages for the suffered abuses when imprisoned during the Mau Mau uprising, including castration, beatings and severe sexual assaults.
The Kenyan case set a historical precedent and it is estimated that 2,000 other surviving Kenyans imprisoned during the Mau Mau insurgency can know sue the British government, which could have significant consequences for the government.
Overall, Britain used to have total control over 50 colonies including Canada, India, Australia, Nigeria, and Jamaica. Currently, there are 14 British Overseas Territories that remain under British rule. However, all have their own internal leadership and most are self-governing.
- How Britain covered up a brutal Kenya massacre (morningstaronline.co.uk)
UK Foreign Office agrees that imprisoning Palestinian children inside Israel violates international law – but what are they going to do?
In a letter dated 29 June 2012, the UK Foreign Office responded to concerns raised by a group of UK lawyers about the forcible transfer of Palestinian children to prisons located inside Israel. The transfer of Palestinian prisoners (adults and children) to detention facilities inside Israel violates article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention for which personal criminal liability applies.
In the letter, the UK Foreign Office responded that:
“The British Government shares your concerns about the treatment of Palestinian children detained in Israeli prisons and we have a continual dialogue with the Israeli authorities on this question. […] The Government agrees that Israel has legal obligations as an Occupying Power with respect to the Occupied Palestinian Territories under applicable international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention. […] We agree with you that Israel’s policy of detaining Palestinians within Israel is contrary to Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and that domestic law cannot be used as a justification for violations of international law.”
According to Israeli Prison Service figures released in June 2012, 85 percent of Palestinian prisoners, including children, were detained inside Israel. Given that this violation has continued for decades, questions need to be asked as to what additional steps the UK Government is considering to ensure that it complies with its own legal obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention, as dialogue does not appear to be working when it comes to the forcible transfer of prisoners.
- Israeli interrogators sexually harass Palestinian children in detention (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- UK Report finds Israel breaches International Law in treatment of Palestinian children (alethonews.wordpress.com)
German media regulatory body BLM has failed to provide legal justification for its decision to ban Press TV, after the channel files a lawsuit against the organization.
Press TV’s legal team says it has very strong evidence against BLM’s decision to ban the channel from a satellite platform in Europe.
It also says BLM has provided the court with a poor defense in which it has failed to provide any legal justification for its controversial move. The channel has called the ban “illegal.” And, in the lawsuit, Press TV has claimed compensation.
BLM took Press TV off the SES Astra satellite platform in early April. The media regulator claimed Press TV had no license to broadcast. However, the channel’s legal team has submitted documents to the court that prove Press TV can broadcast under German law.
An administrative court in Germany has accepted Press TV’s argument and the legal procedures have begun. The court has not yet specified a date for the hearings, but they are expected to start soon.
The channel has learned that the satellite platform is also taking legal action against BLM. Press TV has criticized German authorities for their attempt to silence the voice of the alternative news channel.
Press TV was taken off the air in Britain earlier this year, almost two years after the British government’s media regulatory body, Ofcom, launched a politically-charged battle against the channel.
According to Wikileaks’ cables, American and British officials discussed ways of limiting the operations of Press TV in a London meeting in 2010.
- France refuses to give Press TV team visas; no explanation offered (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Post-democracy: Press TV banned in Germany (mycatbirdseat.com)
- Reuters bureau chief to appear in Tehran court over report on Ninjas (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- UK threatens to confiscate Press TV property in London (1oneday.wordpress.com)