British lawyers hunting for Mau Mau fighters in Kenya

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British lawyers hunting for Mau Mau fighters in Kenya

Maina Waruru asks about why firms are trying to get compensation from the British government.

At the beginning of October 2012, a group Kenyan veterans (people who had been in the army) got permission to take the British government to court. This is a historic high court decision. Two British law companies are now looking for people who used to be Mau Mau freedom fighters. The law companies Leigh Day and Tandem Legal are trying to find as many people as possible who were victims in the time before Kenya became independent. They will then sue the British government to get compensation (money).

Leigh Day has been working on this for almost five years; the Kenyan Human Rights Commission and others are helping them. But Tandem Legal and their partners are working on this alone. They only started working on this last year, after the courts in London decided that the Mau Mau War Veterans’ Association could legally ask for compensation from the British government because of torture and imprisonment.


Two young Kenyans arrested for making speeches in 1952. AP Photo

Since last year, Tandem Law has visited many parts of Kenya looking for clients and giving them free legal help. However, people are now asking why the companies are doing this. Many people are afraid that the companies are only looking for money. In the past, Leigh Day has earned almost $1 million for Maasai people who were injured by bombs and arms which were left in British soldiers’ training areas in Northern Kenya.

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