Archive for the ‘Mau Mau’ Tag

Delaying Tactics: Britain’s Colonial Victims Deserve Better

Are appeals being used as a delaying tactic by those trying to avoid justice? That was the accusation made by the Government last week after the High Court rejected the final appeal of Abu Hamza et al. against their extradition to the United States on various terrorism related charges.

The final appeal of the five suspects was undoubtedly little more than a last-ditched attempt to delay their extradition to a country with an often outrageously harsh prison system, but theirs was not the only stalling attempt thwarted in the High Court that day. It also rejected the Government’s latest attempt to prevent the case of three Kenyan torture victims from being heard.

The Government’s challenge that the case could not be fairly tried due to the amount of time that has passed since the crimes were committed was thrown out by the court in a hearing which lasted less than five minutes, but has taken up several months of the proceedings. This delaying tactic was the second attempt by the Government to avoid accepting responsibility for the crimes committed against its colonial subjects through legal trickery; last year the High Court rejected the Government’s push to have the case dismissed on the grounds that legal responsibility for the crimes of the colonial administration passed to the independent Republic of Kenya rather than the government of the United Kingdom.

The legal action, which has been repeatedly stalled by the Government, began back in 2009 and it’s expected to be another year before the trial starts in proper (assuming there are no further pre-trial shenanigans from the Government). One of the four elderly claimants, Ndiku Mutwiwa Mutua, has already died during the drawn-out proceedings, which raises the question: can any of the victims hope to see justice done in their lifetimes?

Quite possibly not, if precedent is anything to go by. Following the forced depopulation of the native inhabitants of the island of Diego Garcia, part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, to make way for a US military base, the Chagos Islanders fought a series of legal battles. In 2000, after a struggle lasting decades, the High Court finally ruled that the Islanders had a right to resettle their homeland. This ruling was effectively overturned by the Privy Council a brief time later. That ruling was itself deemed unlawful by the High Court. A ruling which was again overturned, this time by the House of Lords. The case drags on in the European Court of Human Rights to this day.

The three surviving Kenyan claimants, all elderly, are unlikely to survive a decade of Government delaying tactics and it may well be that neither they, nor the Chagossians expelled from their homes over forty years ago, will see the justice they deserve.