"History on Trial: Mau Mau and the High Court of Justice" Caroline Elkins

The UCLA African Studies Center's Coleman Memorial Lecture will feature Caroline Elkins, Professor of History and African and African American Studies from Harvard University.

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In 2009, five elderly Kikuyu claimants filed suit against the British government in London’s High Court alleging systematic torture and abuse at the hands of British colonial agents in the detention of Kenya from 1954 to 1960. The claimants alleged that their abuse was part of a larger system of mistreatment established during British counter-insurgency operations during the Mau Mau Emergency (1952-1960). This historic case marks the first time a former colonized population sued the British government for crimes committed during the colonial era. After four years of legal battle, the British government opted to settle the case in June 2013, and issued a formal apology on the floor of the House of Commons and paid nearly £20 million in damages. The implications of the case are significant, first and foremost for offering justice long-denied the claimants. Moreover, the case and the court’s rulings set precedent for future claims from other colonized populations; additionally, due to the FCO’s unprecedented disclosure of documentary evidence long withheld from the public, the fields of African and British imperial histories are now being revised considerably, the implications of which extend well beyond the academy.

Published: Tuesday, May 3, 2016