William Hague will today express “sincere regret” to thousands of Kenyans detained during the Mau Mau uprising in the 1950s and 1960s as he announces a compensation package of around £14m.
More than 5,000 now elderly people are each expected to be given £2,600 – about five times the average annual income in Kenya – because of the torture and mistreatment they suffered while in British custody.
The Foreign Secretary will set out details of the moves in a statement to the Commons this afternoon. It is understood he will also announces plans to build a permanent memorial to the victims in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.
Today’s announcement will be the first official acknowledgement by the British authorities of the brutal behaviour , including castration, rape and beatings, of some of its forces trying to quell the Kenyan 'Emergency' of 1952-60.
The settlement follows test cases brought by three Kenyans in the London courts. The government had argued that too much time had elapsed for a fair trial and maintained that all liabilities for the torture by colonial authorities had been transferred to the Kenyan Republic when it became independent in 1963.
But judges ruled it was wrong, especially after the discovery of an archive of 8,000 documents from 37 former colonies.
Among the papers was a memo from Eric Griffith-Jones, then the Attorney general of Kenya, who agreed to sanction beatings as long as it was done secretly. “If we are going to sin, we must sin quietly,” he wrote.
Paul Muite, a Kenyan lawyer advising Mau Mau veterans, said: “We have agreed on an out-of-court settlement.” He said compensation will go to “everybody with sufficient evidence of torture”, about 5,200 people.