More than 8,000 Kenyans, severely mistreated under British colonial rule during the 1950s Mau Mau uprising, are seeking compensation from the UK.
According to the reports, thousands of names have been submitted to the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), seeking multi-million pound compensation from the British government.
“The Law Society of Kenya has received lists of ex-Mau Mau fighters seeking compensation running into billions of shillings from the British government,” LSK chief Apollo Mboya said in a statement.
More names are expected to be submitted from the Kenya Human Rights Commission, the statement added.
There are also reports that Britain agreed on a compensation settlement totaling £14 million. Britain’s Foreign Office, however, has refused to comment on the issue.
At least 10,000 people died during the 1952-1960 Mau Mau uprising against British colonial rule, with some sources giving far higher estimates.
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.
The UN’s torture watchdog has hit out at the British government for human rights abuses. In its harshest criticism yet of the British government, the panel warned that urgent action is needed for the country to meet international standards.
The UN Committee against Torture focused on human rights abuses during the so-called war on terror and the mistreatment of prisoners in British custody in Iraq. It also flagged up some 40 separate incidents on which the UK government must act.
The findings highlighted the British governments actions following 9/11 and the commission urged the British government to quickly establish an inquiry into whether detainees held overseas were ill-treated or tortured by British officials.
The report reads that the committee is “deeply concerned at the growing number of serious allegations of torture and ill-treatment, as a result of the state party’s military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
The UN team also slammed what they called “an escape clause” in the Criminal Justice Act (1988), which allows British officials to escape prosecution for inflicting severe pain or suffering if they can show that they had “lawful authority, justification or excuse” for doing so.
Another legal loophole the committee voiced concern about is the Intelligence Services Act (1994), which effectively insures that intelligence officers cannot be prosecuted within the UK once a warrant giving them lawful authority has been signed by a government minister.
The panel was disappointed at the failure to date to prosecute anyone for the torture of Iraqi prisoners and in particular the failure to convict anyone for the murder of Baha Mousa who died in British custody in 2003. Only one soldier received a one-year sentence for admitting inhumane treatment.
There was also concern with the government’s planned introduction of secret court procedures in July for issues that may affect national security under the Justice and Security Act. Closed Material Procedures as they are known make it easier to use hearsay evidence or evidence obtained through torture, the committee maintains. The system of Special Advocates – lawyers who are vetted and chosen by the government – “have a very limited ability to conduct a cross-examination and cannot discuss full content of confidential materials with their client thus undermining the right to a fair trial,” the report reads.
The watchdog also urged the UK government to halt the deportation of failed asylum seekers to Sri Lanka. The deportation of failed Tamil asylum seekers has led to their torture or ill-treatment on return and the UK government hasn’t changed its policy on the issue despite a ruling by the High Court in February ordering them to suspend deportations.
The government was criticized in its handling of the case of Shaker Aamer, the last remaining UK resident in Guantanamo. The committee regretted that despite the “best endeavors” of the UK to try and get him released “there are no encouraging signs of this happening soon”.
There were also accusations against the UK government on several issues connected with Northern Ireland. The Northern Irish justice system must abolish all non-jury trials the report concludes, adding that historical investigations into past misconduct, particularly of military officials, must not be delayed or suspended.
The committee asked that police officers only use tasers when they face “a real and immediate threat to life or risk or serious injury”.
There was also unease that the age of criminal responsibility in England, Wales and Northern Ireland has not been raised from 10-years, despite calls by more than 50 organizations for this to be done.
Further concerns were raised about the steady increase of the prison population over the past decade and the problem of overcrowding. To help rectify the issue the committee urged the government make wider use of non-custodial sentences.
In a further blow, committee members accused the UK delegation of being evasive when questioned about Britain’s human rights record during a two-day hearing in Geneva last month.
The British government was given a year to explain how it could improve its human rights record in 4 key areas: overseas torture, getting Shaker Aamer out of Guantanamo, stopping the forced deportation of Sri Lanka asylum seekers and setting up inquiries into past abuses in Northern Ireland.
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
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- Spies “monitoring” Palestine solidarity groups around world, says Israeli military correspondent (theuglytruth.wordpress.com)