LONDON — Archbishop Desmond Tutu has accused Britain of neglecting its human-rights duties over a case brought by Kenyans allegedly abused by British colonial officials in the 1950s, The Times reported Monday.
The case of three elderly Kenyans who claim to have been tortured during the Mau Mau uprising begins at London’s High Court on Monday.
Britain contends it is not legally liable for the alleged abuses saying responsibility was transferred to the Kenyan government upon independence in 1963.
In a letter sent to the British government six months ago, Tutu warned that Britain’s “reliance on legal technicality” would undermine its “reputation and authority as a champion for human rights”, according to the paper.
The three say their brutal treatment included systematic abuse, torture, castration, rape and hard labour.
Tutu said that evidence of torture was “clear and substantial”, and that Britain’s reluctance to shoulder the blame was “strongly out of step with many other modern democracies that have been faced with historic allegations of abusive conduct”.
The archbishop told the newspaper on Sunday that he had personally raised the issue with Foreign Secretary William Hague, adding it was “high time the British government showed some magnanimity and compassion.”
More than 10,000 people were killed in the 1952-1960 Mau Mau uprising — with some estimates even higher.
In July 2012, the three claimants won court approval in Britain to sue the British government over the brutality they claimed they suffered in the struggle.
Britain fears the case will open a floodgate of other claims.
Photo AFP/File, Giulio Petrocco