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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

UK Admits Torture In British Prison Camps During Mau Mau Uprising

Kenyans (left to right) Wambugu Wa Nyingi, Jane Muthoni Mara, Paulo Nzili and Ndiku Mutua, stand outside the Royal Courts of Justice, in central London. They are taking the British government to court over alleged atrocities in the 1950s in what is now Kenya. (AP)

Three Kenyan citizens who are in London pursuing claims of torture against the British government heard a dramatic admission from British authorities. “The government does not dispute that each of the claimants suffered torture and other ill-treatments at the hands of the colonial administration,” a British official said in court.

Caroline Elkins, Harvard professor of History, stopped by Here & Now studios at WBUR in Boston. (Jesse Costa/Here & Now)

The Kenyans say they were beaten, sexually abused, and castrated by British officers as Great Britain sought to put down the violent Mau Mau rebellion in their country in the 1950s.

The Kenya Human Rights Commission estimates that 90,000 Kenyans were killed or injured and another 160,000 were detained by British officials. No case has advanced this far that seeks to hold Britain accountable for human rights abuses in its colonies. It raises the prospects of other suits against the country.


  • Caroline Elkins, Harvard professor of History, and author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book, “Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya.” She is serving as an expert witness in the London trial.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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