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Kenyans are taking Britain to an EU court over colonial-era abuse

#Kenyans #Britain #court #colonialera #abuse

Kenyans displaced from their land by British settlers during colonial rule are taking their case against Britain to the European Court of Human Rights, their supporters said on Tuesday.

Lawyers for those displaced from Kenya’s Rift Valley say that by ignoring victims and their grievances, the UK government has breached the European Convention on Human Rights, to which it is a signatory.

“The British government ducked and ducked and unfortunately avoided every legal avenue possible,” said Joel Kimutai Bosek, who represents the Kipsigis and Talai peoples.

“We have no choice but to go to court for our clients so that the story can be set right.”

The Kipsigis and Talai were expelled from the ancestral lands around Kericho in the early 20th century, an important tea-growing region now cultivated by large multinationals such as Unilever, Finlay’s and Lipton.

They took their case to the UN, where in 2021 a panel of special counsels expressed “serious concern” at Britain’s failure to publicly apologize or acknowledge its share of responsibility for these colonial-era abuses.

Lawyers for the Kipsigis and Talai argued that the British army and colonial administrators used rape, murder and arson to confiscate farmland in Kericho from its traditional owners.

The victims – more than 100,000 signatories to the UN lawsuit filed in 2019 – were demanding an apology and compensation for the usurpation of their homeland and redistribution to white settlers who used the fertile soil to grow tea.

But lawyers for the Kipsigis and Talai said the UK government has refused to meet with the victims or their representatives.

The victims’ legal team said it had filed a submission with the EU court, which had not received the request as of Tuesday afternoon.

Once the case is filed, a decision can be months or even years away.

“This is a historic day,” said Paul Chepkwony, the outgoing governor of Kericho County, who has fought for reparations for years.

“We have taken all reasonable and dignified steps. But the UK Government has given us the cold shoulder… we hope for those who have suffered too long that their dignity will be restored.”

In June, the EU court issued an interlocutory ruling barring the UK from deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda.

London has since enacted legislation that would allow it to overrule judgments by the Strasbourg court, but denied that it intends to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights.

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